I decided to take the girls down to the National Harbor last week to visit the museum and ride the new Capital Wheel. Clara and I had been to the museum once before but this was baby Mae’s first time. The National Children’s Museum opened in December of 2012 with the goal of “Inspiring children to care about and improve the world” through interactive play. The museum is best enjoyed by children ages 8 and under.
The museum welcomes visitors with a giant map of the globe on the floor to help children determine where they are in the world. This area also has interactive touch screens and giant atlases.
From here, we first went the the My Town area that demonstrates how people connect to everything and everyone in the towns in which they live. In this exhibit, children can buy food at the general store, make pizza at the town’s pizza parlor, and play in the fire engine. There is also a town harbor with a crane that kids can use to move mini shipping containers.
Next, we explored the World Cultures exhibit that supports cross-cultural awareness and interaction. It begins at the Arrivals area, where there is small airport luggage carousel with suitcases that you can peer into.
Just beyond the luggage carousel is an area all about transportation, where kids can sit in a three-wheeled vehicle from Thailand. Mae loved this little car and sat in it for a good 10 minutes before I moved her along!
Also in the transportation area is a race track where children can build cars and test them by sending them down tracks with different terrains. This was one of Clara’s favorite parts of the museum.
At the center of the World Cultures exhibit is a Tanzanian marketplace, where kids can pretend to buy goods.
The How we Talk area is about communication and all the different languages spoken around the world. There is a table with chalkboards where older children can practice writing the words displayed on the table in different languages.
Next, we looked at the What We Wear exhibit and my little fashionistas enjoyed trying on kimonos, scarves, and different clothes from around the globe.
Then we went over to the Where We Eat exhibit that features a kitchen with a row of different ovens to show how cooking is done around the world. This was another favorite section of the museum for Clara. She spent a lot of time preparing different meals for me.
Next we went to the 3 and under gallery. The NCM has a partnership with Sesame Workshop, the non-profit organization of Sesame Street, so the show’s characters have a presence in the museum, especially in the 3 and under section. This area was designed to encourage learning through play, movement, art, and discovery. There is a climbing area that challenges balance and coordination. Another area has a variety of toys where children can build and explore different objects to enhance fine motor and problem solving skills.
In the Infant and Crawler Zone, babies ages 1 or younger have an enclosed area where they can explore different sights, colors, and textures including a fish tank and mirrors.
A room behind this area is filled with little tables and chairs where children can make a craft. Clara was excited to make a “wiggle worm” on the day we visited the museum.
The museum also has a 130-seat theatre where they offer a variety of kid-oriented productions and entertainers.
Overall, my girls had a great time at the museum and were kept busy and entertained for about 2 hours. The ticket price does seem a little high but it’s also a place that you would probably want to visit only once a year. We were at the museum on a Tuesday morning at 10am and there were only 2 other families there so we had plenty of space to ourselves. I think my expectations were too high the first time we visited because I was thinking that it would be much bigger being the National Children’s Museum. It seems fairly small compared to other children’s museums. That being said it still does have a lot to offer and children will definitely enjoy the experience!
Good to Know:
•Admission is $10 per adult and child. Infants under 12 months are free.
•Hours: Tue-Sat 10am-4pm, Mon closed, Sun 12pm-4pm
•The St George parking garage is located across the street from the museum.
•The museum is not accessible by metro.
•No food is allowed in the museum. Bottled formula and milk is allowed in the nursing area located in the 3 and under gallery.
•Strollers are allowed in the museum and there is a place to park them next to the restrooms and area where you can hang your coat.
•There are lots of restaurants located nearby if you want to get something to eat before or after visiting the museum.
•You can host your own private play date at the museum for $250.