Best Washington D.C. Museums for Kids
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Washington D.C. is known for its museums. From art museums to science museums to natural history museums, there’s something for everyone in D.C.—and something for kids of every age. If you’re thinking about a family vacation this summer, D.C. is great destination. Many museums are free of charge and offer children opportunities to explore their interests in an exciting and dramatic setting.
“Children’s museums embody a belief in the importance of education, learning, personal growth, and discovery,” says Ariel Moyer, Director of Communications at the National Children’s Museum in D.C. “They are an important resource for parents and caregivers because they create learning environments and experiences for children that broaden their horizons, enrich their lives, and open their minds to new opportunities and experiences.”
Stacy DeBroff, bestselling author and founder and president of Mom Central , says taking children to museums is also a good way to reinforce school learning. “The best of museums,” DeBroff says, “create a fascinating environment to bring alive on a grand scale those subjects that children are studying in school.”
DeBroff suggests taking minitrips within a museum, pacing the learning to appropriate timeframes. “You want to make the experience fun, and you don’t want to push the limits of tediousness,” she says.
One way to make the museum experience meaningful for children is to visit the gift shop first. Consider buying a children’s book that highlights specifics of the exhibits you are about to see. Previewing the exhibits is a great way to facilitate discussion and generate excitement about the contents of the exhibits. Young children enjoy treasure hunts—holding the gift-shop book in hand as they search for the treasure in the museum.
The Washington D.C. museums featured below range in subject matter and age-appropriateness. For more information, visit the Web sites included below or call the museums directly.
FOR YOUNG CHILDREN
The National Children’s Museum, scheduled to open in D.C. in 2013, will be a vibrant children-centered museum that will build on the 30 years of experience of the Capital Children’s Museum, which closed in 2004. Until the National Children’s Museum opens its doors, the museum will continue to function as a “museum without walls.” Through school and community outreach programs, traveling exhibits, and programs in partnership with other organizations, the National Children’s Museum provides families and students with regular learning opportunities, ranging from understanding family fitness to appreciating deafness. Don’t miss the family-friendly performances and activities for children each Saturday this summer at National Harbor’s American Market. For a complete programming schedule and additional information about these hands-on activities, contact the National Children’s Museum directly at (202) 675-4120.