Thursday, December 13, 2012

Keep It Local: National Children's Museum!

Woo-hoo! It's finally here! We've been waiting for the NCM to open for, well, for what seems like forever. So we were particularly psyched when mom said we were going to get a chance to preview it before it opens to the public tomorrow (plus, I got to play hookey from school, so you know I was really excited). There was a lot going on when we were there, but the bottom line is this: it's on the smaller scale of children's museums, BUT it's open structure, changing programming, and friendly, involved staff, including some professional actors facilitating play, makes it unique among kiddo museums we've visited.

We spent the most time playing in the "cooking" exhibits, including a wood-fired pizzeria and a global kitchen in the World Cultures exhibit. I may or may not have spent a significant amount of time stuffing Cookie Monster's face. And he may or may not have eventually patted his tummy and walked away. Yep, I outdid the cookie man.

Cam liked the global dress-up area, but was also a pretty big fan of the Sesame Street themed 3 & Under gallery, which features a climbing structure and Cookie Monster's lunch truck (serving up sushi -- Cam's fave! -- among other fare). The 3 & Under area also has a nice protected area for the little littles and it's own art and crafts room that features literature-based projects (right now, it's "The Hungry Little Caterpillar").

Mom liked the NCM's incorporation of politics, international focus, and the food truck (obvi).

We were so busy playing that we refused to take a break to check out the zoo-centric performance going on in the NCM's theater, but it sounded pretty neat. The museum preview only ran for a little bit today and our goal was to get a good overview, but we can see ourselves returning several times to play more in depth (we didn't even scratch the surface of the arts & crafts room, the oversized wooden blocks in the 3 & Under area, or the global literature display (Harry Potter in several languages!)).

It's going to be interesting to see how the NCM handles crowds, we're sure it will get busy in there fast, but definitely put this on your list of places to go in the near future. I may have thrown a tantrum for the first time in probably two years when mom made me leave, if that gives you any idea of how cool I thought it was. If you want a more detailed outline of the exhibits, check out our previous post on the groundbreaking ceremony.

NCM is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. between Labor Day and Memorial Day, and will remain open until 7 p.m. during the summer months. Admission is $10 per person (infants 12 months and under are free) and the museum also offers group rates and membership options. GEICO will also be sponsoring free nights of familiy activities one evening each month, with the first free night taking place on Friday, January 18, 2013.  Check out the museum's website for further info.

I loved this pizzeria in My Town, which had cool "conversation starters" topping the dining tables.

Cam in My Town's firetruck

Making campaign pins with My Town's "reporter."

Registering to vote.

The World Cultures area is featuring Tanzania at the moment.

Learning about Tanzanian culture in World Cultures.

Harry Potter!

"But I want all of it, mommy!"

"What? Don't you cook corn like this in your house?"

3 & Under's play structure.

"for babies."

We got so used to all the press at the preview snapping pictures of everyone that we decided on our own to stage cute photo ops and make mom take pictures of them. "Did you get the one of us kissing, mommy!?!?" Seriously.

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