Tag Archives: DC Museums

Hang out on the LAWN in the National Building Museum


The National Building Museum’s annual Summer Block Party installation just opened, and it’s one to put on your seasonal To Do list. LAWN transforms the Great Hall into an inviting, expansive green space that encourages recreation and relaxation — whatever your preference — with an aesthetic and activities that evoke a feeling of summer.

Designed by the LAB at Rockwell Group, the studio that built the PLAY WORK BUILD exhibit upstairs, LAWN is a sloping, stretch of “grass” (it’s a soy-based, recyclable product) adorned with elements for visitors to enjoy. Adirondack chairs and blankets offer seating. Corn hole and croquet mallets and soft balls welcome play. The gentle hill is fun to run up or roll down. Hammocks invite guests to lay back and relax…and listen to stories of summer.

The hammocks are equipped with speakers above them playing audio of famous people talking about summer experiences. You can listen to Jose Andres, Whoopi Goldberg, Venus Williams, and many more celebrated folks share their memories. It kind of feels like you’re chilling out with a friend on a lazy day, listening to them relay a story.

There are more speakers placed around the exhibit that play sounds of the season — crickets chirping, a thunderstorm, birds calling. A stand at the bottom of the hill sells summer treats, lemonade and ice cream and cookies. And the museum’s fountain is incorporated into the exhibit in an interesting way, reminding me of an inflatable swimming pool in the backyard.

You can get a bird’s eye view of the whole scene from a three-story scaffolding tower at the top of the hill. Walk in and climb the stairs to a platform to watch the action below and get new perspectives of the stunning Great Hall.

There will be special programming like movie night, yoga sessions, and late nights, so be sure to check the calendar to see what’s coming up. And DC residents should be aware of Ward Days, when they can visit LAWN with complimentary admission from 9–11am when the ward they live in is invited: July 23 is Wards 7 and 8, July 30 is Wards 2 and 6, August 6 is Wards 3 and 4, and August 13 is Wards 1 and 5.

Plan a day to play and relax on the LAWN. It’s one that kids of all ages (including us really big kids 😉) will enjoy.

LAWN
Where: National Building Museum | Judiciary Square, DC
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: $16/adult, $13/age 3-17, $10/AARP & Blue Star, FREE/members

* Museum members get free admission, so this is a good time to consider a Family Membership


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Filed under 2019, All ages, Annual, DC, Exhibit, Indoor Play, Museums, Seasonal, Special Event, Summer, Weekdays, Weekend

The Dinosaurs Have Returned to DC

A diplodocus is one of the many dinos featured in the Hall of Fossils


Back in 2014, when it was announced that the Hall of Fossils at the National Museum of Natural History would be closing for five years to undergo a major renovation, one of my first thoughts was of Owen. He was eight years old then, in second grade, and still digging dinosaurs. At that time, he wanted to be paleontologist when he grew up (with a side gig as a hip hop dancer, of course) and loved visits to the “Dino Museum.” I remember thinking that when it finally opened again, he would be 13 years old, in seventh grade, and probably not so into the prehistoric beasts anymore. But it seemed like such a long time away that I couldn’t really even fathom what he would be like at that age — my little boy, a teenager!?

Checking out the old Hall of Fossils when they were little people


Well, that time has come. The new David H. Koch Hall of Fossils-—Deep Time is complete, which means the dinosaurs are back — along with a whole new presentation of 3.7 billion years of life on Earth and how the past informs the present and shapes the future.

A first look at the space

The Nation’s T.rex (the real deal!) devouring a triceratops

Stop and see the Centrosaurus

The 31,0000-square-foot exhibition is nothing short of impressive. Featuring everything from an authentic Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton (read the story of its discovery) to replicas of other large prehistoric species to displays of smaller fossils to all kinds of installations and displays about the history of our planet and the climatic, geological, and human impact on it. Carts with related hands-on activities for all ages are also set up throughout the exhibit. You can experience it all as a journey through time, starting billions of years back and following it into the future.

Smaller fossils on display are just as interesting as the giants

A mechanical pterodactyl

An activity cart about dino tracks

The exhibition was produced with some messages in mind: That all life — past, present, and future is connected and is continually changing over time. Geological processes and global cycles cause ecosystem and evolutionary changes, and mass extinctions have at times devastated life on Earth. There is also a call to us humans to recognize the impact we have and consider our role in shaping the future and the fate of life on Earth.

This all opens to the public on Saturday, June 8, with an Opening Ceremony at 10:15am — the first 300 visitors to the National Mall-side entrance can participate in it. After that, all are welcome to explore, though crowds are expected, and there will be lines. But the museum will be open late, until 7:30pm, both Saturday and Sunday. Costumes are encouraged, so come as your favorite dino or as a paleontologist (but be sure to note safety instructions on this page)! There will be even more events to celebrate the opening of Deep Time on several other weekends. Admission to most of them is free.


As for Owen… my teen is now a rising eighth grader. And while he no longer seeks out books about dinosaurs or requests Dinosaur Planet on Discovery Channel, he is still into science (and basketball and soccer and history and indie rock music, and if you ask him what he wants to be when he grows up, he’ll wisely answer something along the lines of, “How can I know now? There are so many possibilities.”). When I told him about the new Hall of Fossils after attending a preview, I remarked that it was kind of bummer it had closed when he at peak dino. His response, “Yeah, but the new one sounds really cool…when can we go?”


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Filed under 2019, All ages, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Free, Museums, Special Event, Weekdays, Weekend

Join a Community Celebration at the National Gallery of Art this Sunday!


A visit to the National Gallery of Art makes for a great family outing any time, but this coming weekend will be an especially fantastic time to go. On Sunday, April 14, join the museum for a Community Celebration of the opening of Oliver Lee Jackson: Recent Paintings where there will be performances and activities for all ages that weave the rich sounds, rhythms, and colors of jazz with visual art.

Among some of the fun and festive ways to enjoy the day, you can:

  • Create Oliver Lee Jackson-inspired collages
  • Make your mark by contributing to a giant community puzzle
  • Engage with works of art and Gallery educators with hands-on activities
  • Soak in live jazz from DC native and saxophonist Herb Scott
  • Experience poetry by spoken word artist Charity Blackwell & create your own
  • Celebrate the diversity of Washington, DC, with Faces of DC, a photo mural starring faces of the people we encounter every day. (Located at 7th Street & Madison Drive NW)
  • The Community Celebration will take place in the East Building, 11am – 5pm. More information, including the schedule of activities and details for getting 20% at the cafe museum cafés, is available on the National Gallery of Art website.


    John Wilmerding Community Celebration: Oliver Lee Jackson
    Where: National Gallery of Art | National Mall, DC
    When: Sunday, April 14, 11am – 5pm
    Admission: Free


    This post is sponsored by the National Gallery of Art, however, I only promote events, programs, and places that I genuinely believe in and think will appeal to KFDC readers.


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    Filed under 2019, All ages, Art, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Free, Museums, Special Event, Spring, Weekend

    Where to Celebrate Black History Month Around the DC Area (2019)

    The National Museum of African American History & Culture is a powerful and moving experience



    February is Black History Month, and there are many great events and activities throughout the DC area to celebrate it. Museum programs (including an entire museum), special events, tours and exhibits, live entertainment, story time sessions, and more will be enlightening and fun for all ages. Here’s where many are happening over the next few weeks.

    Tour the NMAAHC
    Where: National Museum of African American History & Culture
    When: Ongoing
    Admission: Free

    This museum is the best place to learn about black history and culture in America. September through February, which is off-peak season, you can get in on weekdays without tickets, but timed entry passes are still required for weekend admission. They are available online on Saturdays and Sundays starting at 6:30am until they run out. Be sure to read the KFDC Guide to Visiting the National Museum of African American History & Culture with Kids before you go.

    Museum & Memorial Tour
    Where: African American Civil War Museum | Shaw, DC
    When: Ongoing
    Admission: Free

    Take a tour of another museum dedicated to the contributions of the 209,145 members of the United States Colored Troops. The African American Civil War Museum tells the stories and preserves for posterity the historic roles these brave men of African, European, and Hispanic descent played in ending slavery and keeping America united under one flag. A rich collection of artifacts, documents, primary sources, and technology create a meaningful learning experience for families, students, Civil War enthusiasts and historians about the period from the American Civil War to Civil Rights and beyond. Be sure to stop by the nearby African American Civil War Memorial, too.

    Library Programs
    Where: Public Libraries throughout DC
    When: Throughout February
    Admission: Free

    The DC Public Library proudly celebrates Black History Month during February with all kinds of programs — author talks, lectures, arts & crafts, and story times. Visit the website to see what activities are going on at a location near you.

    Black Diamond
    Where: Discovery Theater | National Mall, DC
    When: February 1, 12-13, 19-22
    Tickets: $3-8

    This spirit-rousing musical play chronicles the struggles and triumphs of pioneering African American baseball players. The all-star lineup of heroes includes Moses “Fleet” Walker, who became the game’s first black pro in the 1880s; power hitter Josh “Spitfire” Gibson; athlete-philosopher Satchel Paige; and young Jackie Robinson, who first integrated the major leagues. You’ll stand up and cheer for the players who made sports history—and American history, too!

    Black Panther
    Where: Select AMC theaters nationwide
    When: February 1-7
    Admission: Free

    Disney just announced that Black Panther, the blockbuster Marvel film, will be returning to theaters for one week in celebration of Black History Month and their Best Picture win at he SAG Awards. And screenings will be free! Go here to snag tickets!

    Portrait Story Days
    Where: National Portrait Gallery | Penn Quarter, DC
    When: Most Saturdays & Sundays, 1-4pm
    Admission: Free

    Drop in to the Portrait Gallery to listen to a story from friends at the DC Public Library about a notable person featured in the collection and complete a hands-on art project. All through February, the program highlights black Americans in honor of Black History Month — this year, Toni Morrison, Tuskegee Airmen, Barack Obama, and Michelle Obama will be in the spotlight. Read more about the program and museum here.

    The Slave Memorial & Exhibits
    Where: Mount Vernon Estate | Mount Vernon, VA
    When: Throughout February
    Admission: $18-20/adult, $11-12/ages 6-11, free/5 & under

    Make a point to see these on a visit to George Washington’s estate. The memorial is located approximately 50 yards southwest of George and Martha Washington’s tomb, on a bluff above the Potomac River. A gray, truncated, granite column which represents “life unfinished” is the center of three concentric brick circles. The three steps leading up to the column are inscribed, respectively, “Faith,” “Hope” and “Love” – the virtues that sustained those living in bondage. The exhibit Lives Bound Together explores the personal stories of the people enslaved at Mount Vernon while providing insight into George Washington’s evolving opposition to slavery.

    Jim Crow on Streetcars
    Where: National Trolley Museum | Colesville, MD
    When: Through February, Saturdays & Sundays, 12-5pm
    Admission: $10/adult, $8/child

    In recognition of Black History Month, the Museum presents this temporary exhibit. Learn about the nature of segregation aboard the cars in 19th century New York, the efforts to black the practice as it developed across the South, and the eventual success in opening employment opportunities.

    Frederick Douglass House Tour
    Where: Frederick Douglass Historic Site | Anascostia, DC
    When: Ongoing
    Admission: $1

    Learn about the life of Frederick Douglass on a guided tour is his historic house — it’s the only way to see the inside. Rangers guide interpretive tours of the house every day at the scheduled times (listed on the website). Tours cover the first and second floors and last about 30 minutes.

    Into the Great Unknown: African American Adventures & Explorers
    Where: Discovery Theater | National Mall, DC
    When: February 5-8
    Tickets: $3-8

    Leadership, courage, and adventure take center stage in this inspiring Discovery Theater original. Meet Matthew Henson, co-discoverer of the North Pole, and Barbara Hillary, the first African American woman to reach it nearly 100 years later. Thrill to the frontier exploits of the hard-riding mail carrier “Stagecoach Mary” Fields and Nate Love, the former slave who became the legendary cowboy nicknamed Deadwood Dick. And learn how astronauts and aerospace pioneers Guion Bluford and Mae Jemison are charting a whole new frontier today. From the Pole to the prairies to outer space, the histories and heroism of these African American women and men attest that true grit and personal power can push us toward greatness. Recommended for ages 6-12.

    Huckleberry Finn’s Big River
    Where: Adventure Theatre | Glen Echo, MD
    When: February 8 – March 10
    Tickets: $20

    Twain’s timeless classic sweeps us down the mighty Mississippi as the irrepressible Huck Finn helps his friend Jim, a slave, escape to freedom at the mouth of the Ohio River. Touching and timeless, this tale of friendship against all odds is recreated for young audiences as two best friends demonstrate the power of changing the world.

    African American Pioneers in Aviation and Space
    Where: National Air & Space Museum | National Mall, DC
    When: February 9
    Admission: Free

    Each February, the museum celebrates the significant contributions African Americans have made to flight and space exploration despite the overwhelming obstacles they had to overcome. Enjoy presentations, hands-on activities, and stories. Learn about African American astronauts, pilots, and scientists of the past and present and their accomplishments.

    Black History Month Family Day
    Where: Woodlawn Manor Park | Sandy Spring, MD
    When: February 9
    Admission: $3-8

    Bring the entire family out to celebrate African American Culture. The event will feature presentations and activities to highlight the rich culture of the free and enslaved communities and the connection to contemporary culture. All ages are welcome.

    Young Portrait Explorers: Barack Obama
    Where: National Portrait Gallery | Penn Quarter, DC
    When: February 11, 10:30-11:30am
    Admission: Free

    Join the National Portrait Gallery to learn about Barack Obama in a program that touches on art and history through storytelling. For toddlers up to age 5 and their adult companions. Registration is required. Class size is limited — register in advance! Parents and guardians must remain with their children.

    Lunch and Learn: Black History Month
    Where: Sully Historic Site | Fairfax, VA
    When: February 13, 12-1pm
    Admission: $5

    When Carter G. Woodson established Negro History Week in 1926, he wanted schools and other organizations to study black history. The week of recognition has since grown to Black History Month. In honor of this month, learn about the enslaved people who made Sully their home during the 18th century. The program includes a visual presentation and hands-on elements. Bring your lunch and your questions, as discussion is welcome. For ages 12+.

    Celebration: Black History Month 2019
    Where: Parks in PG County, MD
    When: Throughout February
    Admission: Varies by activity

    Celebrate and honor African American heritage during Black History Month with PG County Parks and Recreation. From performances to art exhibitions to history lessons to tours, there are many events and activities planned throughout the area. For a complete listing of Black History Month events, go here.

    Expressions of a People Festival
    Where: Arts Harmony Hall Regional Center | Fort Washington, MD
    When: February 11, 1-6pm
    Admission: Free

    Join this free Black History celebration featuring musical performances, children’s activities, workshops, the unveiling of the 2019 Black History Month poster, and entertainment for the entire family. Children can also enjoy mask making, face painting, and a caricaturist. Among the performers will be Culture Queen, a teaching artist who uses interactive music, movement and storytelling to teach your royal children their history and to love themselves.

    Frederick Douglass Annual Birthday Commemoration
    Where: Frederick Douglass Historic Site | Anacostia, DC
    When: February 16
    Admission: Free

    Join the National Park Service as they end the bicentennial year of Frederick Douglass’s birth and continue a celebration of the man, his legacy and his impact to the world. Enjoy a commemorative ceremony D.C. Prep Academy (1409 V Street, SE) from 1-2:30pm. Take a walking tour of the neighborhood surrounding Douglass Cedar Hill estate titled “Douglass Anacostia” and enjoy ranger led house tours on the quarter of every hour from 1-4pm. Registration required at the visitor center.

    Meet Dr. King
    Where: National Theatre | Downtown DC
    When: February 23
    Admission: Free

    The National Theatre’s free weekly series for kids presents this performance fro Bright Star Theater. The story of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is one of both triumph and tragedy. In this dramatic show, audiences come to see that the rights won during the American Civil Rights Movement came with a heavy price. Showtimes are 9:30am and 11a. Reserve free tickets in advance online to guarantee seats.

    Black History Month Winter Walking Tour
    Where: Woodlawn Manor Park | Sandy Spring, MD
    When: February 23, 10am – 2pm
    Admission: $3-8

    Take a guided tour of the grounds and buildings of Woodlawn Manor Cultural Park and discover the role enslaved labor played on this 19th century farm. Explore how the enslaved could have nature for escape and evasion while seeking freedom. This guided tour includes exterior space and a natural trail. Participants are recommended to dress to be in the elements. Best for ages 8+. Register in advance.


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    Filed under 2019, All ages, Annual, DC, Maryland, Special Event, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend, Winter