The National Children’s Museum is located at National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland, just outside of Washington, DC. The museum offers interactive exhibits and activities designed to spark curiosity and inspire learning in children of all ages. The museum’s mission is to create a place where children and families can explore, discover, and learn together. The museum offers a variety of hands-on exhibits and programs, including a climbing wall, a giant bubble room, a treehouse, and an interactive art studio. The museum also offers educational programs, special events, and workshops.
National Children’s Museum
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The National Children’s Museum is a children’s museum and science center in downtown Washington, D.C. It is intended to serve children up to age 12 and their families through interactive exhibits exploring science, technology, engineering, art, and math.
Founded in 1974, the museum operated from 1979 to 2004 at 220 H Street, NE. It then operated as a “museum without walls,” until 2009, when it opened a new location in National Harbor, Maryland. That closed in 2015. A new location opened on February 24, 2020, in the Ronald Reagan Building in downtown Washington, before temporarily closing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The museum reopened on September 2, 2021.
The museum’s mission is to inspire children to care about and change the world. The museum received a U.S. Congressional designation in 2003 when Congress identified a need for a nationally recognized cultural and educational institution specifically for children.
Judith Grummon Nelson founded the Capital Children’s Museum in 1974. In 1979, the museum moved into a building at 220 H Street, NE, in Washington, D.C., a former Little Sisters of the Poor home. The H Street location closed in August 2004.
From 2004 to 2012, National Children’s Museum operated as a “museum without walls,” forging partnerships with other organizations. The museum participated in a wide variety of events, which reached hundreds of thousands of children and families, including the White House Easter Egg Roll, the National Cherry Blossom Festival, and Nickelodeon’s Worldwide Day of Play. Museum staff also conducted educational outreach activities in 14 states.
From 2009 to 2015, the museum was located in National Harbor, Maryland, first at the Launch Zone, a 2,700-square-foot space, and then in a larger location with exhibits such as “3 & Under” and “Our World.” In November 2014, the museum’s leadership announced that the institution would return to Washington, D.C.; the National Harbor location closed in January 2015.
After a long search for a new location, the museum’s Board of Trustees identified an empty federal space adjacent to the Ronald Reagan Building in downtown Washington, DC, a short walk from the National Mall and the White House. The 30,000-square-foot space became the museum’s new home and was brought to life with modern exhibits that explore STEAM concepts, including early computer science skills, data literacy, the design thinking process, and environmental science.
Travel Channel listed the museum in its “10 Most Anticipated U.S. Museum Openings of 2019,” and USA Today included it in its list of “Great New Museums for 2019.”
This location was originally scheduled to open in March 2019. Its opening was delayed until November 1, 2019, and then again until February 24, 2020.
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- The 90’s raw: Capital Children’s Museum Video of the Capital Children’s Museum in the 1990s
- Sutton, Benjamin, “National Children’s Museum Eyes November Opening, Will Boast on Big Wheel Racetrack”, ArtInfo, June 6, 2012
- Parker, Lonnae O’Neal, “National Children’s Museum (finally!) reopening at National Harbor”, The Washington Post, June 12, 2012
- Hager, Nathan, “National Children’s Museum one step closer to opening in Pr. George’s County”, WTOP.com, June 12, 2012
- Eatough, Allison, “Eight Great Museum Exhibits That Engage Children of All Ages”, Maryland Family Magazine, July 22, 2012
- “National Children’s Museum Launch Zone (National Harbor, MD)”, The Meanest Momma, Aug. 31, 2012
- Cooper, Rachel, “National Children’s Museum Fall Programming”, About.com, Aug. 29, 2012
- “Worth the Drive: Kids Can Go for the Gold at National Harbor”, NBC4, Aug. 3, 2012
- “Go for the Gold”, Gazette Newspapers, Aug. 2, 2012
- “10 Children’s Museums for Olympics-Themed Fun”, Kidventurous, July 25, 2012
- “National Harbor, MD: A Great Summer Destination for Families”, Trekaroo, July 14, 2012
- “10 New Meeting Venues in Washington”, BizBash, July 9, 2012
- “Date Night in Prince George’s County: Movies, Baseball and More”, Upper Marlboro Patch, July 5, 2012
- “National Children’s Museum to Open This Year at National Harbor”, FestivalDC.com, June 14, 2012
- “Everybody Walk the Dinosaur: Toddler Tuesdays at the NCM Launch Zone”, Not So Stay-at-home Mom, May 12, 2012
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- Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center
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- William Jefferson Clinton Federal Building
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