Visitor Policy

The Visitor Promise is the cornerstone for the public policies of the Walters Art Museum. Each of the following policies has been developed to protect Walters’ visitors, staff, and volunteers, as well as the artwork and buildings we steward.

This policy is reviewed annually by members of the museum’s Leadership Team, led by the Director of Visitor Experience and the Director of Safety & Security. The Walters Art Museum reserves the right at any time to create, amend, supplement, modify, or rescind, in whole or in part, this policy as it deems appropriate. It is the staff’s responsibility to remain informed regarding all such updates.

Safe and Respectful Behavior

Behaviors that contribute to an atmosphere of enjoyment, learning, and discovery are welcomed and encouraged. Examples can include but are not limited to:

  • Taking time to engage with artworks
  • Reading in the galleries
  • Talking, laughing, having fun (in a safe way)
  • Taking pictures without a flash
  • Having a seat and rest
  • Speaking with staff or volunteers
  • Enjoying a performance, discussion, or program
  • Eating or drinking in the Museum Cafe
  • Sketching in the galleries

Behaviors that are not Permitted

Behaviors that harass, abuse, or endanger museum visitors, staff, or volunteers, including discriminatory language or conduct; behaviors that endanger the art, buildings, or grounds; or behaviors that impede or interfere with the experience of others are not permitted. Museum staff will ask any individual who engages in these behaviors to leave museum property. Examples can include but are not limited to:

  • Blocking entryways, egress, or staircases, including exterior staircases
  • Sliding down stair banisters
  • Running
  • Roughhousing, pushing, kicking, jumping
  • Inconsiderate noise, including yelling, loud music, or phone calls on speaker
  • Carrying others on shoulders or back
  • Leaning over or sitting on ledges
  • Nudity not permitted
  • Shoes are required
  • Solicitation

Protect the Art and Objects

The Walters strives to preserve and share the works of art, objects, and buildings in our care for future generations.

Visitors, volunteers, and staff are prohibited from touching any artwork, objects, frames, platforms, display cases, or anything used to protect the art. Exceptions to this rule are subject to approval in advance and will be communicated to staff.

Sitting or standing on platforms and writing leaning or placing items on cases is not permitted. Visitors using gallery stools should maintain a safe distance from any artwork, and not impede the movement of other visitors or staff in the gallery space.

Bags, Backpacks, Luggage, and Oversized Items

  • All bags and parcels brought into the museum are subject to search
  • All bags, parcels, or any items larger than 11” x 15” x 6” are considered oversized items and must be stored in a complimentary locker
  • Telescopic items that extend past 15” long are not permitted
  • Oversize items that can’t fit in a complimentary locker can be stored in another location at the discretion of a Visitor Experience staff member
  • All allowable bags must be hand carried at the side, to the front, under a stroller, or on the back of a wheelchair or mobility device
  • Bags of any size cannot be carried on the back
  • Medical exemptions to bag restrictions in the museum will be considered on a case-by-case basis and coordinated with Security and Visitor Experience staff
  • Full-size umbrellas are not permitted and must be stored in a complimentary locker or umbrella racks at the museum entrances
  • Collapsible umbrellas can be carried in a bag, stroller, mobility aid, pockets, or stored in a complimentary locker
  • Tripods, monopods, selfie sticks, external flashes, or other photography equipment, per the museum’s Photography Policy, are not permitted
  • The museum assumes no liability for visitor’s personal items

Materials Safe for Unsupervised Use in Gallery Spaces:

  • Pencils
  • Colored pencils
  • Clipboards

Prohibited Items in the Museum, Include but are not Limited to:

  • Any item deemed by museum security to be hazardous
  • Chemicals and aerosols, other materials that emit corrosive gasses or fumes

Weapons of any type, including toys or props, with the exception of uniformed law enforcement officers and former, current, or retired law enforcement officers with an active LEOSA permit (per Maryland State Law)

  • Balloons
  • Segways, skateboards, rollerblades, bicycles/tricycles, and shoes with wheels
  • Wagons and other vehicles that are pulled
  • Live animals, with the exception of service animals
  • Soil and/or potted plants (this includes moss, dried flowers, leaves, found wood)
  • Flowers
  • Open containers of liquid of any kind

Food and Drink

  • Food and drink (except for water in a contained bottle) cannot be consumed outside of the Museum Café
  • Food or drink in sealed containers can be carried in a bag, stroller, mobility aid, pockets, or stored in a complimentary locker
  • Water from a contained bottle may be consumed in lobby spaces including the 1 West Mount Vernon Conservatory, Lobby spaces on levels 1, 2, and 3 of the Centre Street building, the Graham Auditorium, the Atrium, and the Sculpture Court
  • Exceptions to this policy are made in cases of medical need
  • Students on museum-approved school tours may use Studio B or the Museum Cafe as their “brown bag” lunch area, subject to pre-approval by the Manager of School Communities and Manager of Retail Operations

Smoking, Vaping, Illegal Drugs, Alcohol

The Walters Art Museum is a smoke and drug-free building.

  • Smoking, including electronic smoking and vaping, is not permitted in the museum or within 50 feet of any door
  • Illegal drugs, drug paraphernalia, and using illegal drugs are not permitted in the museum
  • Alcohol is sold in the Museum Cafe to visitors 21 and older and must be consumed in the café
  • No outside alcoholic beverages are permitted in the museum
  • Intoxicated and disorderly conduct is not permitted
  • Cafe and events staff are TAM-certified and trained to facilitate responsible drinking

Minors and Children

Children of all ages are welcome at the Walters Art Museum.

  • Children under the age of 13 must be accompanied at all times by a caregiver 13 years or older
  • Child carriers are permitted only in the front carry position (child can face in or out)
  • Caregivers can nurse or bottle-feed anywhere in the museum and must be seated and exits, pathways, and art cannot be blocked.
  • Should a parent need to feed a child (other than by nursing or by bottle; for example, sippy cups or snacks) the Museum Cafe, located in the Centre Street lobby on Level 1, may be used
  • Strollers are permitted in the museum and complimentary strollers are available at the Visitor Experience desk
  • Strollers wider than 32” may not fit in certain areas of the museum and may need to be checked


The Walters Art Museum strives to make our buildings, galleries, website, and programs accessible for all people, in alignment with our Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion goals, Visitor Promise, and mission to bring art and people together. Visitors can direct inquiries to the Visitor Experience team or the Accessibility Advocate at [email protected].

  • Service animals are permitted; other animals are not permitted
    • The ADA defines service animals as dogs and miniature horses. The public accommodation may take into account a series of assessment factors in determining whether to allow a miniature horse into a specific facility. These include the type, size, and weight of the miniature horse, whether the handler has sufficient control of the miniature horse, whether the miniature horse is housebroken, and whether the miniature horse’s presence in a specific facility compromises legitimate safety requirements that are necessary for safe operation.
  • Wheelchairs and mobility devices are permitted throughout the museum. Staff can provide complimentary wheelchairs upon request. Staff cannot assist visitors in or out of a wheelchair, mobility aid, etc.
  • The access lift at the Centre Street entrance is visitor-operable, and security staff can assist with opening the doors and operating the lift
  • The inclined platform lift on level 3 of the Centre Street building is operated with the assistance of Security staff
  • Medical exemptions to bag and food and beverage policies are determined on a case-by-case basis by a security supervisor and in cases of medical need
  • White canes and walking canes are permitted
  • Visitors on a Walters Touch Tour are permitted to touch certain works of art with gloved hands and under the guidance and oversight of a trained docent or staff member
  • Noise-canceling headphones, small weighted scarves and blankets, and sensory objects are available upon request at the Visitor Experience desk
  • Portable gallery stools provided by the museum are permitted in all galleries where they do not block pathways
  • Small pen flashlights or flashlights embedded in a smartphone are permitted in the galleries to illuminate artworks, labels, or walking paths

Open, Public Restrooms

  • Visitors can determine which bathroom to use based on accessibility, gender identity, or other needs
  • Bathing in museum restrooms is not permitted

Copying in the Galleries

The Walters Art Museum welcomes artists and students to use its collections for study, inspiration, and enjoyment.

Visitors are welcome to sketch in the permanent galleries.

Sketching with dry pencils and colored pencils on small- to medium-sized pads is permitted.

Artists who wish to use mediums other than pencils must receive approval in advance. Please contact our Visitor Experience department at [email protected] or 410-547-9000, ext. 265 and a museum staff person will respond to your request within two business days.

Photography in the Museum

Photography and videography of the permanent collection is allowed with hand-held cameras provided they do not endanger works of art, interfere with the viewing experience of others, or violate copyright laws.

Visit our photography policy for more information.