Mission/History | Staff | FAQs | Donations & Rentals

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have performances every day?

Discovery Theater does not perform every day.  Please check our schedule on the What’s Playing? page to see if we have something on the day you are interested in.  If we do not have show, the theater is closed (but our offices remain open for calls).

What is your snow/cancellation policy?

Discovery Theater is closed ONLY if the Federal Government is closed. If you are unable to make your performance due to inclement weather (or for any other reason), please call us immediately at 202-633-8700. We will do our best to re-schedule you for another performance. A refund will only be given if Discovery Theater is closed.

Please note: you must notify us via phone or email BEFORE your scheduled performance begins in order to exchange your tickets or receive a credit for a future performance.

Where is Discovery Theater?

The Discovery Theater is located in the S. Dillon Ripley Center on the National Mall. Our physical address is 1100 Jefferson Drive, SW. Click here for a map. When entering the Ripley Center, take the stairs or elevator to the 3rd sublevel and follow signs to Discovery Theater.

What about performances in other places?

Discovery Theater may present shows at other Smithsonian Museums. Always double check the location of your show when making reservations. Get a complete list of locations and addresses on the Show Locations page.

How do I get tickets?

Individuals may purchase tickets by calling the Smithsonian Associates at 202-633-3030, M-F, 9-5pm, or online through our website. You will be redirected to a secure page on the Smithsonian Associates website. Once you’ve purchased tickets online, you will receive an email confirmation. If you do not receive this email, please call us immediately, as your order may not have gone through. Tickets are also available onsite the day of the show (if available). Reservations are strongly recommended, as most of our programs sell out.

We are currently not mailing out physical tickets so please hold on to your email confirmation after your purchase. When you arrive to theater for your performance, please check in at the Box Office.

How much are the tickets?

Regular prices range from $7-$10.  Prices are listed on all show pages on our website.

Can I buy tickets on the day of the show?

On show days, please call 202-633-8700 after 8:30 AM to hear a message about the day’s show. This message will give you the ticketing situation for the day (sold out, tickets available, etc.). Our shows are very often sold out and you will be put on a wait list upon arrival to the theater. The wait list is not a guaranteed method of entry so we advise purchasing in advance as much as possible. We accept all major credit cards, checks, and cash at the door (please note cash is easiest).

What else can I do before or after my show?

Discovery Theater is located on the National Mall, among all the Smithsonian Museums.  Please visit www.si.edu and click on “What’s On.”   You can search the calendar on the day of your show to see all the other activities happening on the Mall. You may also visit the Smithsonian Visitors Center, located right next door to us, and inquire at the Information Desk. 

Can I take photos or video during the show?

This is up to the presenter and will always be announced by our house manager before the show. Please listen carefully to their speech – or ask a Discovery Theater staff member upon entering.

Is there a space for my group to eat lunch at the theater?

Discovery Theater/Ripley Center does not have accommodations for groups to eat lunch.  If weather permits, we recommend eating outside on the Mall or in the Haupt Garden (behind the Castle). Please note that outside food (bagged lunches) are not permitted inside any of the museums at this time.  For information about purchasing group dining packages, please visit https://www.si.edu/dining.

What if I show up to the wrong performance (time, date, etc.)?

We strongly encourage you to check your email confirmation carefully and let us know ASAP if there was a mistake. If you come to the wrong performance and we are sold out, you will be put on a wait list and asked to come back right before the show starts. If we have ticket holders that do not show up, you will be allowed in.  If you miss your show and we can’t get you into another performance, we can credit your account for a future performance.

What is your seating policy?

Seating is usually done on a first come, first serve basis. For many of our programs, we will also need to seat large groups of school children. Families are sometimes ask to wait to enter the theater if we are about to seat a group or if the group arrived before you. Families are often asked to sit in a specific section of the theater or auditorium. This ensures that everyone has a seat and can see and hear the performance.  If you have special needs that require you or your child to sit in front, please let us know in advance and we will do our best to accommodate you.

What should I know before coming to the theatre?

Please CLICK HERE for a info sheet for some helpful information to read over before your visit.

Where can I park at Discovery Theater?

On-street parking in Washington, D.C., is very limited; the use of public transportation—Metrobus, Metrorail, D.C. Circulator, etc.—is highly recommended.   Metered parking is also available on the streets surrounding the Mall and throughout the city; time limit varies by street.  Colonial Parking is the nearest parking garage to the Ripley Center at 6th St. and Maryland Ave., SW. For more information about Parking, please visit our Directions & Parking page.

What is the closest Metro Station?

Smithsonian on the Blue, Orange, and Silver lines is the closest stop. From the platform, use the Mall Exit. At the top of the escalators, take the sidewalk to your right to Jefferson Drive. Turn left on Jefferson and walk towards the Castle. The Freer and Sackler Gallery will be on your right. The Ripley Center is immediately after that. It is a small, round building with a green roof. Once you enter the Ripley Center, take the elevator or stairs to the 3rd sublevel and follow signs to Discovery Theater.

Do you host Birthday Parties?

We do not offer a space or activities for birthday parties but you are welcome to purchase tickets as a group to come and see one of our shows.