Activities & Resources
National Museum of American History551in Washington, DC 20560
about National Museum of American History:
Kermit the Frog, Evil Knievel's Harley-Davidson XR-750, and Dorothy's ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz can all still be found, and kids should also like the large, landmark objects selected to represent each wing of the exhibition floors: the John Bull locomotive and an 1845 railroad bridge; the Vassar College telescope, circa 1865, used by America's first woman astronomer; the Greensboro lunch counter from the famous civil rights protest; Horatio Greenough's monumental sculpture of George Washington; a Red Cross ambulance used during the Spanish-American War; and a Dumbo car from Disneyland.
Interactive activities are incorporated into several exhibitions, including America on the Move, The American Presidency, The Price of Freedom: Americans at War, and Within These Walls. Families can also find interactive carts throughout the museum, offering activities such as peeking through a stereoscope and using a press to print a card. Carts are available most days - check in at the Welcome Center (on the second floor) when you arrive for that day's schedule.
The science and technology wing includes the Lemelson Hall of Invention and Spark!Lab, a hands-on science and invention center. One of the highlights of the Lemelson Hall for families is the return of the popular exhibition Invention at Play. Previously on display in the Museum in 2002, the exhibition draws on inventors' materials and research into children's play habits, making connections between the playful side of invention and the inventive side of play, and offering highly interactive and engaging activities that focus on the similarities between the ways children and adults play and the creative skills and processes used by inventors.
The Spark!Lab, which takes the place formerly occupied by the Hands On Science Center, tries to show the real story behind an inventor's work. Kids can play games, conduct science experiments, explore inventors' notebooks, and even invent. There is a special section in Spark!Lab especially for children under five and their parents or caregivers. Entry to Spark!Lab is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Children under 13 must be accompanied by a chaperone at all times.
There are two dining options, the Constitution Café, which faces Constitution Avenue on the first floor and offers sandwiches, soups, salads, and desserts, and Stars and Stripes Café on the lower level, which serves American fare.