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National Children's Museum, Washington DC

Categories: Children’s Museums, Museums
Inspirock Rating:
1.3/5 based on 35+ reviews on the web
The National Children’s Museum is an interactive museum for children, serving the Washington, D.C. metro area. In 2003, the United States Congress designated NCM as the only national museum dedicated entirely to children and their families.The museum's exhibits and programming are designed for children to "learn through play," and focus on six core content areas: the arts, civic engagement, the environment, global citizenship, health and well being, and play. NCM's mission is to inspire children to care about and improve the world.HistoryCapital Children's Museum (1974-2004)NCM was founded as the Capital Children’s Museum in 1974. In 1979, it moved into a building at 220 H Street, NE in Washington, D.C., a former Little Sisters of the Poor home. In 2003, Congress identified a need for a nationally recognized cultural and educational institution specifically for children. The H Street location closed in August 2004.Museum Without Walls (2004-2012)Since 2004, the National Children’s Museum has been operating as a “museum without walls,” forging partnerships with other organizations and participating in community events, educational outreach programs and traveling exhibits.Some of the events in which NCM has participated include the White House Easter Egg Roll, the National Cherry Blossom Festival, the Marine Corps Marathon, Kids Euro Festival, Nickelodeon's Worldwide Day of Play, and NCM's own JumpOFF! and CycleFest.As a "museum without walls," NCM reached over 300,000 kids and families last year alone.
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  • I have not been to this place in over a year now. The main reason is the lack of things to do for the kids to explain things. It's a small venue so if you don't like crowds it's not for you. Pricing w...  read more »
  • Disappointed to say to the least. We added this our "things to do" while visiting family in DC. We have a 1 year old, 2 year old and 8 year old. Our Children's museum at home (Portsmouth, VA) has alwa...  read more »
  • I've visited 4 times over 2 years, with toddlers. While there are appealing elements, like the live 15 minute shows/plays, overall, it's too small to hold any interest beyond about an hour's visit, wh...  read more »
  • The only real problem with this museum is the expectations of visitors. It really shouldn't be known as the "National Children's Museum" because that really sets the tone for something completely different along the lines of Baltimore's Port Discovery or the children's museums in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. This place is nothing like that and the website could do a better job of communicating what this place is and isn't. I think people would enjoy it much more if they knew what they were in for when they got there. Instead they're expecting something much more and feeling let down. It's a one story museum, with two main rooms, a small "theater" and some activity rooms down a hall. There are no water features, no huge climb through play structures, none of what you'd expect from a larger children's museum. That said, it's very well done. My three year old had a great time playing with the crane, the fire truck, and the blocks. He loved the preschool area and making crafts. My five year old was able to understand that the crane exhibit was about how goods get to market from around the world, how the fire truck tied into the 911 call center, and how the blocks could be used to create some of the different types of homes in that center. We were there for three hours and could easily have stayed at least another hour--we didn't manage to see everything, not because there was so much to do (there's not, it is a small museum) but because my kids were so engrossed in the activities. Two major advantages this place has over other, larger museums--it's easy to find a staff member if you need one and--at least the day we went--there were no crowds at all. Larger children's museums often feel overrun with unsupervised kids roaming free and trampling the little ones. There were maybe a half-dozen or so other families there with us at any time during the day. This isn't a "destination museum;" I wouldn't drive to DC just to see this place, but if you live nearby or are in the area anyways, it's definitely worth a visit. Plus, there's plenty of other things to see around National Harbor--you could easily spend a day with small kids in the area.
  • We live in a small city in Ohio. Our children's museum was much more inspiring and creative than what was at our alleged "National" museum. Evidently you put the title on it and locate it near an upscale area like the National Harbor and we have a National Children's Museum.. Exceptionally disappointed. Dirty toys, lackluster activities, less than enthusiastic staff. Save your money and time folks and go to the Smithsonian's while in DC.
  • I Should have read the reviews first. The negative reviews were unfortunately spot on. Very small exhibits with old and used toys/activities. Took my 8 and 6 year old niece and nephew. I made sure to have them read every exhibit they played in to hear the educational and cultural value, but the exhibits really weren't even fun. The pizza parlor, international kitchen, and fire truck kept their (and my) attention for a few minutes, but got boring very quickly. Honestly, $10 a person is complete a JOKE. It should be free. Unless you live nearby, it truly isn't worth the drive. Highly disappointed.
  • Having very fond memories of visits to the old Capitol Children's Museum when our sons were young, we were excited to take our two grandchildren (ages 2 and 5). We couldn't have been more disappointed in the overall lack of content and creativity of the displays. Our granddaughter commented that the small Melissa & Doug play store at home is more fun. The entire museum appears to be the product of a lack of funding, and that they nevertheless wanted to re-establish a presence. This was a mistake in my opinion, as it falls far short of the original children's museum that it replaces. I would go so far as to say it is shameful to call it the National Children's Museum, and am embarrassed for visitors to the area. Compared to other Children's Museums I'm familiar with (Please Touch in Philadelphia and The Magic House in St. Louis), this one is strictly 3rd rate. I will say it is clean and the staff was plentiful and very nice and friendly.
  • THIS IS THE NATIONAL HARBOR ONE!!!!!!!! It was a great place. Loved it very much! I could tell it was for littler kids....but it still was fun. There are some bad reviews from some of the ones in other places, but i liked this one. You can even find real shark teeth and touch gooey substances and many other cool things! Yes, I would reccomend this to a friend.
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