National Museum Of African American History And Culture
Just footsteps away from the National Museum of American History, this Smithsonian Institution museum was established in 2003, but did not open to the public until September of 2016, making it the newest museum in the Smithsonian Institution as of this writing. It is the only museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African-American life, history and culture. Here you can browse through a collection of more than 36,000 artifacts, items and discover the rich heritage of AfricanAmerican culture through numerous intriguing displays and exhibits.
Easiest Exhibit For Babies And Toddlers
- #1 recommendation for this age group is the Wegmans Wonderplace It is the best kids area for this age group of all the Smithsonian museums! Museum staff at the door allow the correct ages of kids in and they do not allow it to get too crowded.
- It is open everyday 10 AM 4 pm but closed Tuesdays. For ages 0-6, no food or beverages can be consumed except for nursing and bottles.
- Fun hands-on exhibits for the youngest historians including building blocks of all sizes, Julia Child mini kitchen, Farmers market and climbing ship with slide!
MOM TIP: Get here earlier in the day as the museum starts turning people away if it gets too crowded with kids.
Getting To National Museum Of American History
From the centre of Washington D.C., the museum is reachable in around 6 minutes by car, via Massachusetts Ave NW and 13th St. NW. There is also a regular public transport system of buses and trams which takes around 20 minutes, and departs regularly from Virginia Ave & 21st St. By foot, its a half an hour walk via 14th St NW.
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Best Museum Gift Shops
Everything from Astronaut Ice Cream to Adele Bloch-Bauer’s Lipstick
In the past, museum gift shops usually just sold guidebooks, tee shirts or mugs. Today, museums commission artists to make unique jewelry, toys, and even furniture inspired by the museum’s collection. When a museum hosts a temporary traveling exhibit, quite often a whole slew of souvenir items representing the event will fill the gift shop. You may find coffee table books, note cards, silk scarves, prints, jewelry, and more that represent the special exhibit.
For the best souvenir or a way to financially support your favorite cultural institution, pick up a unique item after exploring art for the day at the gift shop or a museum’s online store.
My Favorite Exhibit For Teens
This museum is really a kind of Choose Your Own Adventure! Check out a map and see where they want to go. There is a lot in the museum from innovation to history to transportation. But my go-to place would be the History Theater which has 5x a week interactive plays. They are only 30 minutes and can really help get you engaged.
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National Museum Of American History Family Guide: 9 Tips To Know Before You Go
The Smithsonian Museums are at the top of the list for many families with kids in Washington, D.C. and for good reason! I love going to the museums with my kids because they tick all the boxes:
- Not weather dependent!
But with all the pros, there can be some drawbacks including crowds, toddler tantrums, and feeling overwhelmed. So after dozens of trips to these world-class museums with my two kids, I put together all my mom tips into 7-page guides for each of the top museums. The full guides go into more detail for each of the age groups and if you are interested you can check them out at FamilyTripGuides.com. Make sure to bookmark this post to reference for your future visits! And, check out my 9 family tips for the National Museum of Natural History.
February Tip! For African American History Month in February, check out the History Theater free 30-minute interactive play on Monday, Wednesday, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 12:30 PM and 2:30PM. Located on the 2nd floor, West Wing in front of the Greensboro lunch counter, this play brings the audience into a nonviolent protest training during the Civil Rights era. No tickets needed.
Below are my top 9 tips for one of our familys favorite museums, the National Museum of American History including:
The Forgotten Exhibit: The Museum Gift Shop
At the end of most museum trips, visitors meander through the museum gift shop, allowing their eyes to dance over Gustav Klimt scarves, Abraham Lincoln bobbleheads, or environmentally themed crystal growing kits in the childrens toy section. Museum gift shops also often sell books relating to their collections, especially in history and art museums. What would happen if each museum visitor viewed the gift shop space as more than a fun commercial zone at the end of the museum trip? How can visitors reimagine a museums gift shop as an extension of the museums exhibition space?
Determining the boundaries of the space between narrative interpretation and commercialism that museum gift shops inhabit can be murky because museum lacks a singular, cookie-cutter definition. Indeed, defining a museum can be difficult, and its gift shop is both interconnected and significant in itself. As museums are opening and easing their pandemic restrictions, dont forget the last exhibit: the gift shop. On the surface, visitors might assume that the museum interprets a narrative and that the gift shop is its commercialist afterthought. However, this forgotten exhibit actually continues what the other exhibits are already doing: selling and privileging a specific narrative.
Collected from the hives on the rooftops of Tate Britain, the production of Tate honey helps pollinate the gardens along Londons Millbank. Photo by Libby Tyson at the Tate in London.
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National Museum Of American History
|Location in Washington, D.C.|
The National Museum of American History: Kenneth E. Behring Center collects, preserves, and displays the heritage of the United States in the areas of social, political, cultural, scientific, and military history. Among the items on display is the original Star-Spangled Banner. The museum is part of the Smithsonian Institution and located on the National Mall at 14th Street and Constitution Avenue NW in Washington, D.C.
American Museum Of Natural History
The gift shop at the American Museum of Natural History stocks everything from polished gems and gem polishers to stuffed dinosaurs, science kits, and models.
At this gift shop, you can even stock your bar with ceramic rocket decanters.
And for the kids, the ever-popular Astronaut Ice Cream Sandwich is sold at the gift shop and online.
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Morgan Library & Museum
Art historian Berfu Durantas says “Unlike a typical art museum, they sell more than just postcards, prints and stationery with images from famous works of art. The merchandise is eclectic and ranges from architectural models to reproduction period plates to Morgan tea! There’s also a focus on many book-themed items reflecting Morgan’s extensive book collection in addition to the art. It’s the perfect merging of art and books.”
Jerome And Dorothy Lemelson Center For The Study Of Invention And Innovation
The Lemelson Center, an initiative of the Lemelson Foundation, produces educational programs, popular and academic publications, exhibitions, podcasts and symposia about invention. The mission of the Lemelson Center is to document, interpret and disseminate information about invention and innovation, encourage creativity in young people, and foster an appreciation for the central role of innovation in the history of the United States. The Center frequently provides a multi-year focus on some aspect of how invention has influenced American society, such as its 2002 “‘Invention and the Environment” theme. Programs include an annual symposium, presentations and guest speakers, and often the publication of a book highlighting a particular topic.
The Center provides free curricular material to classrooms throughout the United States, organizes traveling museum exhibitions , and provides research opportunities. It obtains archival collections related to invention for the museum’s Archives Center. Such collections consist of the papers and materials that document the work of past and current American inventors.
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Best Exhibit For Elementary Age
Where Visitors Become Inventors is open every day from 10 AM to 4 PM except closed Tuesdays. Tons of stations to explore, learn, create, invent and test your inventions. Located on the Main level, West wing.
Mom TIP: I recommend saving this until the end of your visit as kids will want to spend their whole time here! I have never seen it too busy so you dont need to worry about being turned away .
New Museum Online Store Open
The holidays are upon us and that means its the season for gift giving! The new National Museum of the United States Army Online Store launched this fall to ensure that the Army veterans and military history buffs on your list get the perfect gift. The new store is filled with Museum and Army-related products for the whole family, remarked Kerri Kline, Army Historical Foundation Chief of Operations. We are excited to have the Online Store up and running to give people another glimpse at what the Museum will offer when it opens. The store will be running a variety of promotions through the end of the year for the holidays. There is also a gift idea feature for those who need some inspiration! Among the most popular items are AHF favoritesthe Foundations annual ornament and the National Museum of the United States Army 2018 Calendar.
This years ornament, the ninth in the collection, features the artwork of MSG Peter G. Varisano . The Varisano Soldier image, American Hero , is a watercolor on paper. Varisano served on the U.S. Army Art team that was called upon to document Operation Desert Shield in the Persian Gulf.
Both of these items and many more are available in the NMUSA Online Store. Visit shop.armyhistory.org to start shopping today!
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Food In And Around The Museum:
Check out my full list of over 20 family-friendly food options near each of the museums here.
New Museums Gift Shop Has A $3000 Quilt A $1 Pencil And Everything In Between
In the vast Heritage Hall of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, employees are shelving funky sculptural dolls whose hair has been twisted and seams have been finished by local artist Francine Haskins. Theyre gently folding up spectacular geometric quilts handmade by the steely matriarchs of Gees Bend, Ala., and fussing over displays of wide-brimmed hats fashioned in the ornate style of legendary Philadelphia milliner Mae Reeves.
One unexpected task on their to-do list: adding price tags.
These items wont be bound for a gallery in the new museum. Theyre being stocked in the gift shop, higher-end artisan crafts aimed at visitors looking for a piece of the museum to take home sometimes, a substantial piece. Among the colorful quilts are one-of-a-kind pieces that can set a guest back a couple of months rent.
At a museum that so many people have been waiting to visit for so long, a lot of attention has been paid to carving out a space where visitors can pick up a novelty, a keepsake, and yes, even a bona fide treasure. The museums retail operation is an excellent example of how the once-cheesy, forgettable gift shop has become a formidable institution-within-an-institution: Curators met with merchants for two years, sharing insights about objects in the collection to help develop gift items and keepsakes exclusive to the African American museum shop, says Ed Howell, the Smithsonian Institutions senior vice president of retail.
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Cool Store Alert: National Museum Of American History Gift Shop
Sometimes the best part about visiting one of our region’s great museums is taking a swing through its gift shop. That’s exactly what I did on a Sunday afternoon visit to the National Museum of American History, which recently re-opened after a two-year renovation. The museum has a large, wide-open gift shop on the main floor, one of three stores in the place. It has all the typical Washington souvenirs like key chains and T-shirts, but also features some interesting finds. The main store, which was moved from the basement to the main floor in the renovation, is representative of all what the museum is about, according to a spokeswoman. Everything in it is tied to the collection in some way.
Near the center of the shop is a display of Ralphie bags, designed exclusively for the museum shop by Washingtonians Crislyn Lumia and Maureen Shore-Brown, bag designers who launched their business in 2006. The small handbags, which feature interesting patterns and handles, range in price from $45 to $60.
You can also find replicas of the diamond-and-pearl-heavy jewelry collection of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Among the pieces are $90 bracelets, $75 chandelier earrings and an $80 inauguration ball-worthy necklace. The store also sells Kennedy’s signature triple strand pearl necklace for $150. The actual necklace that the First Lady wore is on display in the museum.
You’ll also find a nice choice of silk scarves, including a delicate pink and white cherry blossom design for $45.
Museum Of American History In Washington Dc Opens Made In Usa Gift Shop
The Smithsonian Institutes National Museum of American History recently opened the Price of Freedom Store, a gift shop that sells only merchandise that was made in the USA.
The idea for the store came about at the behest of US Senator Bernard Sanders, an Independent from Vermont. He became upset over the lack of American made products in the museums gift shop during a visit there with his family over Christmas time.
He later met with Smithsonian officials who pledged to look for more American made products.
During a visit to the museum and new gift shop this week, Sanders expressed his gratitude to museum officials for their concern and congratulated them on their swift reaction.
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Museum Gift Shop Alternative
Try out the fun Digital Experience Guides that are available near the info desk. They have a family guide that you and your child on a tour of the museum with the theme of people who make a difference. The cost is $7 at this time. In the full Guides, I have Gift Shop Alternatives for each age group. Because all parents know how hard it is to get out of a gift shop!
I hope this mini-guide was helpful! Comment below and tell us about your favorite part of the National Museum of American History!
Taking Photos At The Smithsonians American History Museum
In general, personal photography is allowed.
Cameras are allowed. Flash is allowed in much of the museum, except where posted. No photography is allowed in the Star Spangled Banner exhibit. Tripods are not allowed.
Youll pass through a security bag check on your way in large bags should be checked in the self-service lockers on the lower level.
Many of the exhibits spaces are quite dark, so a high ISO is often called for.
A rolling renovation program means that theres often some exhibit space thats closed, but its usually a small fraction of the total.
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About National Museum Of American History
The Smithsonians National Museum of American History offers a diverse exploration of the nations history, its collections ranging from public lives, to major national events and cultural elements such as areas of advertising and the cinema.
With over three million artefacts, the National Museum of American History covers everything from popular culture and entertainment to technology, military history and politics.
Some of the highlights of its exhibits include the original Star Spangled Banner, Lincolns iconic top hat and, depending on your area of interest, the original Kermit the Frog Puppet.
National Museum Of American History Today
The museums collection contains over three million objects, many of which are iconic items from Americas history.
There are a number of permanent exhibitions, which explore everything from American Enterprise, to the Presidency, America on the Move, and D-Day.
The museum is made up of three exhibition floors, and are anchored by a landmark object to highlight the theme of each wing. These include the Greensboro, North Carolina Lunch Counter, a John Bull locomotive, and a one of a kind draft wheel.
Museum artefact highlights include the original Star-Spangled Banner, Washingtons uniform, Jeffersons lap desk, and Dorothys ruby slippers.
Theres also an eatery called Eat at Americas Table, which seats 600 and serves a variety of traditional American dishes, from BBQ and Tex-Mex, to cooking inspired by Native American traditions.
The museum also offers a number of regular educational outreach programmes, offering free curriculum material for classrooms, and hosting travelling museum exhibitions.
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