After months — no, make that years — of anticipation, the new National Children’s Museum is opening to the public tomorrow, December 14. Sasha and I had a chance to preview it this morning, and I can tell you the wait was worth it.
With a mission to “inspire children to care about and improve the world” the museum is full of hands-on exhibits and activities that encourage visitors to explore the world, from their own home to their town to destinations around the globe. There’s a bedroom, firetruck, pizza shop, pulley system, Tanzanian market, dress-up area, baggage carousel, chef’s kitchen… and every single display welcomes visitors to interact.
The global adventure begins when you walk into the museum. Before you access any of the exhibits, you walk across a giant map of the world that’s part of the flooring. Sasha and I stopped to examine it upon our entrance as well as several times after to look for some of the places we learned about in the exhibits, like Tanzania, and to find locations of family and friends.
Some of her favorite parts included a pulley carrying goods to demonstrate import/export, the climbable bunk bed, a race car track with different kinds of terrain, and the market and kitchen (which were close by so kids could get their produce then go prepare food).
While most exhibits will be best enjoyed by kids ages 3 and up (they say up to about 12, but I think five and under crowd will like it most), there is a whole area for wee little ones, too. The 3 & Under gallery, created in partnership with Sesame Workshop, is a nice soft play area for children under three feet tall or three years of age.
There’s more to the museum experience than just the exhibits. A theater will offer a variety of performances and presentations. And special hands-on activities will be offered throughout the day, all of them relating to the exhibits on display. Some exhibits and complementing activities will change quarterly, offering fresh fun and learning for regular visitors.
You can enjoy all of this starting tomorrow, December 14, when the National Children’s Museum has its grand opening, which will include special programming and performances. Beyond that it will be open daily with the exceptions of Thanksgiving, Chirstmas, and New Year’s Day. Hours are 10am – 5pm from Labor Day to Memorial Day, and 10am – 7pm during the summer. Admission is $10, and all activities and performances will be included with that fee. If you plan to go often, you might consider getting a membership — options are available here.
The National Children’s Museum is located at National Harbor in Maryland. Get directions here.