National Building Museum

National Building Museum
401 F St NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 272-2448

The National Building Museum has two great ongoing exhibits for kids – Play Work Build and the Building Zone. I had been to the museum for other events but had not taken my girls before. So Thursday afternoon I decided we would go since it was too hot to play outside. I was lucky enough to find a metered parking spot along the street (2 hours for $4). There are also several parking garages nearby. And the Judiciary Square metro stop is located just across the street.

NBMsign Once inside the museum, you can purchase tickets at the admissions desk located in the center of the Great Hall. I had already bought our tickets online through a Certifikid deal but still needed to get our wristbands at the desk. Admission into the Building Zone includes 45 minutes of play, so you need to schedule your entrance time when you purchase your tickets.

NBMdeskFirst, we went up to the second level to the Play Work Build exhibit.

NBMwpbsignThis exhibit is a really great interactive play space for children of all ages and includes a world-class Architectural Toy Collection, a hands-on block play area, and an original digital interactive block wall. My girls were first drawn to the lighted table to play with the small individual blocks. It was fun watching them as their little minds worked to figure out how to connect and stack to create different structures.

NBMmaeJust beyond this area is where children can build and recreate their small scale designs with the large scale blue blocks. Clara’s mission was to build a castle. The girls also had fun sticking the long foam tubes into the holes in the wall. We were lucky to have free run of the place since we were the only guests in the exhibit at the time.

NBMblocksFurther back is the digital interactive block wall. It’s fun to watch as virtual blocks fill the wall & then you can knock them down. My girls watched this for a few minutes but were much more interested in playing with the real super-sized blocks.

There is also a table with Lincoln Logs and gear toys where children can further explore their building and creativity skills. Throughout the museum are displays of building toys from the past.


Next, we went back down to the first floor and visited the Building Zone. This exploratory exhibit is designed for children ages 2-6. Families who are just interested in visiting this exhibit only can purchase tickets for $3. In this space children are encouraged to use imaginative play to interact with others, develop problem solving skills, and gain self confidence. My girls first went over to check out the Project Playhouse, a life-size custom built “green” house. Inside, they enjoyed playing with the kitchen toys.

NBMbuildzoneIn other areas of the space children can look at architecture books in the book nook, drive construction play trucks, or play dress up and imagine being a construction worker.

NBMbuildzone1Clara really enjoyed building with the giant Lego blocks.

NBMlegosOverall, my girls and I had a fun time at the museum. Definitely worth checking out whether you live in the area or are just visiting the city.

Additional info:

•Tickets are $8 for adults & $5 for children ages 3-17.
•Admission is free for children ages 2 and under.
•Bathrooms equipped with changing tables.
•No food or drink in the exhibits.
•Peak visitation hours are 10-12pm & weekends.
•Cafe located on the first floor with drinks, pastries, & salads available for sale.

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