US National Arboretum


Photography and Cinematography

Looking for the proper place to film your next masterpiece? The U.S. National Arboretum has just the right site to suit your needs. Historic, one-of-a-kind structures; mysterious and exotic gardens and collections; calm, cool old-wood forests; rare and beautiful trees, shrubs, and flowers--the Arboretum has them all.

national capitol columnsThe National Capitol Columns is one of the most popular sites to photograph at the arboretum. It has been used as a backdrop for live and taped interviews, for marketing campaigns for everything from cars to airline service to weather reports, and has even been transformed into a foreign market for a movie. The Chinese Pagoda in the Asian Collections and the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum are also popular sites.

As these structures and collections are very treasured, so there are certain rules, and a photography permit and a fee are required.

Fees for use of USNA facilities or grounds vary, depending on which building or grounds are being used. Usage may be broken into half or whole days. A half-day usage is defined as four hours or less; a whole-day usage is defined as more than four hours in a day. In all cases, usage includes all time during which a venue is committed, including time used to set up before and clean up after the photography session. An additional $40 per hour will be added for supervision for each required U.S. National Arboretum security officer.

A $30 non-refundable application fee is due when the application is submitted. Upon approval, the $30 is applied to the final fee for the shoot. Payments must be made two weeks in advance of the photography session. Payment is to be made in the form of a check or money order payable to the U.S. National Arboretum.

Venue Cost per Day Comments
Cinematography: Set preparation $250.00 plus supervision Set up; no filming.
Filming $1,500.00 to $3,900.00 Sliding scale based on number of people in cast and crew and number of pieces of equipment from 45 people and 6 pieces of equipment = $1,500 to 200 people = $3,900; 5 people with carryon equipment = same as still photography.
Still Photography $250.00 plus supervision per half day All photography that use models, sets or props that are not part of the site’s natural or cultural resources or administrative facilities; or take place where members of the public are generally not allowed; or take place at a location where additional administrative costs are likely.
Application $30.00 Application Fee

Applying for a Permit
Download and complete the following application to take photography or cinematography. Requests for use should be made a minimum of two weeks in advance of the required date. Complete the application and mail along with a $30 application fee. The fee will be deducted from the total cost of the shoot. If for any reason the application is denied or cancelled the fee is nonrefundable. The U.S. National Arboretum will charge for supervision costs at the rate of $40 per hour per security officer, in addition to fees for use of grounds.

Application for Photography/Cinematography (PDF: 92 K)

The mission of the U.S. National Arboretum is to conduct research, provide education, and conserve and display trees, shrubs, flowers, and other plants to enhance the environment. In accordance with these objectives, the U.S. National Arboretum grounds are open to the public. All visitors are subject to the U.S. National Arboretum rules and regulations. It is the policy of the U.S. National Arboretum to permit and encourage photography within the U.S. National Arboretum to the fullest extent possible consistent with the protection of its gardens and plant collections and the enjoyment of visitors. The U.S. National Arboretum cannot endorse or be made to appear as if it is endorsing a product or a political view. Photographic exercises may not disrupt the flow of vehicles and pedestrians on the grounds of the U.S. National Arboretum. Photography requires a permit and a may incur a fee. All requests for photography must be submitted as far in advance as possible (at least two weeks) and must include a detailed statement of the purpose of the photography. If the request is approved and a fee is assigned, the fee must be received prior to the permit being issued.

View the complete rules from the Federal Register (PDF: 73 K)

For more information contact:
Linda Houston
Administrative Technician
Phone: (202) 245-4544
Fax: (202) 447-2811

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Last Updated   November 18, 2014 8:13 AM
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