Tag Archives: National Portrait Gallery

Overnight Adventures Await Children at Four Smithsonian Museums!



Don’t just dream about adventure on a summer night, have one! Imagine rolling out your sleeping bag beneath a 50-foot whale, at the home of the Star-Spangled Banner, in the shadow of the space shuttle Discovery, or near the portraits of presidents and visionaries. That’s exactly what kids and their chaperones can do when they attend a Smithsonian Sleepover.

The American History Museum, Natural History Museum, the Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center, and the National Portrait Gallery are all yours during a night of fun that features tours, games, crafts, and more. Which adventure will you choose?

National Museum of Natural History Sleepovers
Tonight, one of the world’s most popular museum is yours to explore. Join a small group of fellow adventurers and wander into the newly opened Fossil Hall, where dinosaurs cast giant shadows; explore the ocean’s aquatic wonders; walk softly pass mysterious mammals—did that one blink? Swap stories while enjoying hands-on crafts projects and games. And then, as the lights dim, roll out your sleeping bag and dream away, knowing that Phoenix the whale is keeping watch throughout your night in the museum. Sleepovers at Natural History will be held June 21, June 28, July 19, July 26, Aug. 2 and Aug. 9.

National Museum of American History Sleepovers
Solve a Smithsonian mystery of historic proportions! The devious diva Miss Rose has stolen six valuable objects from the National Museum of American History—and you need to discover what’s missing before evening’s end. Become a detective and roam through the museum’s galleries. Use your cunning and skills to collect clues that guide you to the crime scene. Along the way, take part in some great games, experiments, and craft projects—and even become a presidential candidate. After you have solved the crime, roll out your bag and sleep soundly knowing that you’ve protected some of America’s treasures—and had plenty of fun. Sleepovers at American History will be held May 24, June 15 and July 5.

National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar Hazy Center Sleepovers
There’s no more perfect setting for dreams of flight than the Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia. Its two huge hangars display thousands of aviation and space artifacts, including a Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, a Concorde, and the space shuttle Discovery. Sleepover guests are on a mission to explore the whole world of flight, from its pioneering days through the era of commercial aviation to the excitement of today’s space program. Grab your flight checklist and take off for a night that includes plenty of games, art activities, and close-up looks at some of the most historic and fascinating craft ever to take to the skies. Udvar-Hazy Center staff are on hand to offer lots of great information and insights about the aviation treasures on view. Start the countdown to a one-of-a-kind adventure! Sleepovers at the Udvar-Hazy Center will be held May 18, July 13 and Aug. 17.

National Portrait Gallery Sleepovers
Spend the night in the Smithsonian museum that tells the stories of America through the people who have shaped our nation, from pre-colonial times to today. Discover the poets and presidents, visionaries and villains, actors and activists whose portraits fill the galleries’ walls. Experience the roles of the artist, art critic, and storyteller in this unique sleepover for kids aged 10 to 14. Inspired by a variety of visual art mediums, games, and an immersive guided journey through the museum, sleepover guests create their own portfolios and display their work in a one-night-only gallery exhibition. A sleepover at the National Portrait Gallery will be held Aug. 23.


Ages: Children ages 8 to 14 may participate in sleepovers at American History, Natural History and the Udvar-Hazy Center. Children ages 10 to 14 may participate in sleepovers at the National Portrait Gallery. There must be at least one adult (21 and over) for every three children in any group that registers for the Natural History, American History and Udvar-Hazy Center Sleepovers, and one adult to every four children for the Portrait Gallery Sleepover. Chaperones must be 21 years or older. No adults without children.

Tickets: Ticket prices are $135 for general admission and $125 for Smithsonian Associate members. The price includes exclusive access and activities in the museum, an evening snack, interactive exploration, arts and crafts activities and a light breakfast. T-shirts are available for purchase while at the sleepover.

Groups: Reduced rates may be available for groups of 20 or more. Call 202-633-3030 for more information.

For Military Families: A reduced rate is available for active-duty U.S. military personnel and their families. Please call 202-633-3030 and mention Promo Code 240808 to receive Military Promotion pricing.

FAQ: Information on what to bring, activities, rules, and the required release form for each sleepover location are available online. Additional questions? Email us at [email protected]

Call 202-633-3030 to reserve your adventure. For more information and a schedule of events, visit www.SmithsonianSleepovers.org.


This post is sponsored by Smithsonian Associates, however, I only promote programs, places, and events that I genuinely believe in and think will appeal to KFDC readers.


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Scenes from a Visit to the American Art Museum & National Portrait Gallery



I have said many a time that one of the best things about DC is the accessibility to so much extraordinary art and culture. The Smithsonian, obviously, contributes significantly to that, with world-class museums offering both free admission and programming for all ages that is enriching, enlightening, and fun.

We took advantage of that this past weekend at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, which was hosting a special Family Day to celebrate the work of Mexican artist Rufino Tamayo and the Tamayo: The New York Years exhibit currently on view. The event included crafts, face painting, and fantastic performances in the Kogod Courtyard along with other activities connected to his art.

A lively Mexican dance performance by Maru Montero Dance Company

It doesn’t always take a special event to get us to the Museum. In fact, it’s one we often pop into when we’re in the Penn Quarter neighborhood. Housed in the same beautiful building as the National Portrait Gallery, many of the collections in both parts have always appealed to the kids — vibrant contemporary art, large installations, and portraits of distinguished Americans in a variety of mediums easily capture their interest. And we all love hanging out in the Kogod Courtyard, undoubtedly one of the prettiest indoor places in the city.

This “Woman Eating” always gets their attention

You can read more about all of it in this write-up from a few years ago (pretty much all of it still relevant now). And the NPG opened Explore! With the Portrait Gallery last year giving children extra experiences of portraiture in a gallery full of hands-on activities.

The space itself is magnificent

The Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery are located at 8th & F Streets NW, hours are 11:30am – 7pm, and admission is free. (I noted the hours, as they are different from the rest of the Smithsonian museums). Before you go, get more of a glimpse from our recent visit in the images below!

Looks like driftwood, made of metal



One looking at the art, one learning about it on a digital kiosk



Life imitating art?



Street view from a beautiful stained glass window



Be sure to look up when you’re in the Great Hall



Portrait of Mia Hamm in the Hall of Champions got this soccer player’s attention



Billie Jean King was of particular interest after watching “Battle of the Sexes”



Hi!



“Mom, quit taking pictures and let us look at the art” 😉

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Filed under Art, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Free, Museums, Weekdays, Weekend

Art in the Heart of Penn Quarter: The American Art Museum & National Portrait Gallery

Horse sculpture - looks like driftwood, but made of metal

Horse sculpture – looks like driftwood, but made of metal



The off-the-Mall location of the American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery is both a good and bad thing. Good because it’s not as prominent on the tourist radar as, say, the Natural History Museum and National Gallery, thus keeping the crowds at bay. But bad (or, perhaps, “not as good” is a better way of putting it), because they are wonderful museums that are often overlooked by both visitors and locals, since they’re not right on the beaten path.

Indeed, they are worth the detour from the more popular attractions. Not only are they filled with compelling art, including works that even little ones may find appealing, they offer programs especially for kids that engage and encourage them to look at art in new ways.

Studying "Portrait of Mnonja"

Studying “Portrait of Mnonja”

Nam June Paik's "Electronic Superhighway"

Nam June Paik’s “Electronic Superhighway”

If I’m in the area with the kids, we almost always pop in to stroll around, usually heading to the third floor of American Art, where interesting sculptures, provocative installations, and brilliant colors tend to capture their interest. The special exhibits are often great, too — we loved The Art of Video Games, and there is currently a fascinating exhibition of works by Nam June Paik, who created the video map that’s part of the permanent collection, that focuses on media in culture.

Wandering the halls

Wandering the halls

Portrait Gallery or bust

Portrait Gallery or bust

On a recent visit to the museums, we took advantage of some of their family programs for the first time. (Yes, I almost hate to admit that even though I recommend the programs regularly, we had never actually participated in one.) Portrait Story Days, offered by the National Portrait Gallery every weekend, welcomes guests to drop in to hear a story about a famous American whose portrait is hanging in the museum, then do a craft inspired by the person. Keith Haring was the week’s honoree, so after the reading, we used stencils and a bit of freehand to create our own Haring-esque drawings.

Making Keith Haring-inspired art

Making Keith Haring-inspired art

Guess which is mine?  Hmmm...

Guess which is mine? Hmmm…

The project didn’t last long, so we picked up a Portrait Discovery Kit, which are available from the Education Center and recommended for kids ages 5 and up. The kit included seek-and-find cards that prompted a little scavenger hunt to locate “sitters” in various paintings, a drawing pad to do some of our own sketching, and worksheets that encouraged kids to write down the emotions they observed in a portrait. Owen was engrossed in the hunt for famous mugs, which led us throughout the gallery to find them. He also enjoyed describing the emotions of subjects in the Hall of Champions, the walls lined with portraits of well-known athletes.

On a hunt to find famous faces

On a hunt to find famous faces

The King and O!

The King and O!

Both Portrait Story Days and Portrait Discovery Kits are offered just about every weekend, usually both Saturday and Sunday. But it’s always a good idea to check the schedule to confirm.

The American Art Museum also offers Art a la Cart almost every Saturday and Sunday afternoon. Four carts throughout the museum provide hands-on activities for kids to explore different kinds of art and spark their creativity. It’s recommended for ages 7-12.

The kids are always mesmerized by this sculpture

The kids are always mesmerized by this sculpture

Along with the regular programs, both occasionally present special Family Days that usually correspond with a current event or new exhibit — you can find out about them on the museums’ calendars here and here. Of course, I’ll keep you posted as well.

Splashing in the Kogod Courtyard

Splashing in the Kogod Courtyard

The National Portrait Gallery and American Art Museum are located at 8th & F Streets NW. They are connected by the lovely Kogod Courtyard, a must-stop on any visit to the venue, where you can enjoy lunch from the cafe on premises or bring food from another eatery nearby, and kids can stomp in the one-inch deep water scrims. Note that hours at these museums are 11:30am – 7pm. Both are open daily, except for Christmas Day, and admission is free.

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Where to Play on the Weekdays: June 11-15

Peering into a lifeboat replica (used in the movie) at National Geographic's Titanic exhibit

 

Monday – Discover history through art at the National Portrait Gallery. Children up to age 5 are invited to become Young Portrait Explorers and learn about the work of Isamu Noguchi, one of the 20th century’s most important sculptors, and participate in a related hands-on activity. The program runs from 10:30-11:30am.  Admission is free, but registration is required — go here to sign up.

Tuesday – See the Titanic exhibit at the National Geographic Museum.  Lots of cool displays and interactives will fascinate kids and adults alike. Open 10am – 6pm. Admission is $8/adults, $6/ages 5-12, free for ages 4 and under.

Wednesday – Rock out with a local kids’ fave at Jammin’ Java. Rocknoceros is playing their weekly Wednesday show at 10:30am. Tickets are $5 and available at the door.

Thursday – Hike along the Potomac, see nature indoors and out, have a picnic, and hang out and relax at Riverbend Park. The Fairfax County locale makes for an ideal outing with little ones — easy trails, great nature viewing, and never a big crowd. The Visitor Center is open 9am – 5pm on weekdays. Read about Not-So-SAHM’s recent adventures at the park.

Friday – Catch a free screening of One World, One Sky: Big Bird’s Adventure at the Einstein Planetarium in the National Air & Space museum.  Showtime is 10:30am every Friday  (and the first consecutive Saturday and Sunday of every month). It only lasts about 20 minutes, so check out the exhibits and discover How Things Fly while you’re there.

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