Thursday, October 31, 2013

National Building Museum

Last week we again made it into downtown DC.  It was the first time we've been there since the whole shutdown.

I have a love/hate relationship with parking in DC.  There are crazy, particular signs everywhere about the parking, but no one seems to follow them.  All the parking around the National Mall says you can't park there until 10:00, and then it is only 3 hour parking.  But every time I have driven down there, almost every free spot is already taken by 9:00.  So, we chanced it and took a parking spot there, and didn't get ticketed.  But we still moved after our official 3 hours was up, and had to go into a metered spot because no one else moved after three hours.

Anyway, we always get there too early after dropping dada off at work, so we decided to park there and then walk to the National Building Museum not too far away.  It ended up being so chilly, that we stopped in a Cosi and grabbed a very expensive cup of hot cocoa and a banana.  Theo then proceeded to tell everyone we passed on the street that his hot cocoa was keeping his hands warm...  he is such a chatterbox.

We headed to the G street entrance to the museum because we've heard that's the best way to get a stroller in.  We still had to wait a few more minutes before they opened, but Theo kept busy telling everyone else waiting how he'd been here before (for the festival).

Once in, we went ahead and bought tickets for the whole museum.  You may just buy tickets for the "building zone" which includes 45 minutes of play time there for $3.  I wasn't that super impressed with the area.  I thought it would have more unique building kind of toys, but it was your pretty typical selection.  If in the area, and needing to kill an hour, we might come back, but I don't think we would make a special trip of it just for that.

Regular admission is $8 for adults, and $5 for kids 3-17, so Eli was free again.  For that price we basically got the timed admission into the building zone, and then 6 other exhibits that are currently open, though we only saw 4 other galleries.  Out of those galleries, the two most kid friendly ones are on the second floor.  The House & Home exhibit had an interesting collection of artifacts that Theo liked talking about, but unfortunately he needed to take a restroom break shortly after we got inside, and then we were behind one of the many pre-school groups we saw there, so we didn't get to see the rest of it.

The Play Work Build exhibit was definitely the hidden gem of this museum, and what I expected the building zone to be more like.  It had an interesting collection of building materials, and even a computerized block play experience.  Theo could have stayed here all day, but our timed entrance to the building zone came while we were still here, so we had to hustle down there.

Best photo I could get, he was on the move the whole time.

I should also mention that they was setting-up for an event that the Great Hall was having, so there were some other kid friendly activities that supposedly take place that weren't happening this particular day.  I would consider going back and buying regular admission again, and getting one of the toolkits (the pattern one probably) if I knew there weren't going to be any events going on, and once the new Disaster exhibit opens next year.

While I probably wouldn't recommend this museum to someone visiting with young children that only have a day or two in the city, it is interesting to visit if you live near enough to not make a whole day of it.  (They do have a pretty good gift shop too, and a cafe.)

On to the next museums...

We parked near the Air & Space Museum, which Theodore recognized, so he requested we go in there as well.  We had a few minutes to spare, so we went in the "How you Fly" exhibit.  Theodore had a good time playing with some of the interactive machines.

And though we started the day with hot cocoa, I wanted to end it with ice cream, which I always get at the National Museum of American History.  We picked just two exhibits to tour first, luckily right next to each other, the On the Water and FOOD exhibits.  The water exhibit is a huge collection of model ships, with some other artifacts added in.  Theodore asked SOOOO many questions about them, and was surprisingly focused on the tiny ships and their details.  I had to push him through the exhibit (rather than chase him through it like some).  The boys weren't as interested in the new food exhibit, which now includes Julia Child's kitchen, and a whole bunch of other artifacts talking about how food has changed in the last 60 years.  I've been thinking of this myself recently as I've been going through some of the family and church cookbooks in my collection, and found the exhibit to be very interesting.

And, I can't resist taking at least a few photos of the boys with all the sculptures we come across.

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