National Children's Museum

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National Children’s Museum
Established1974 (originally the Capital Children’s Museum, Washington, DC)
TypeChildren's museum

The National Children’s Museum (NCM) is an interactive children's museum serving the Washington, D.C. metro area. In 2003, the United States Congress designated NCM as the only national museum dedicated entirely to children and their families.

Built on a foundation of inspiring curiosity and lifelong learning, the National Children's Museum will encourage visitors to imagine, investigate, create, and play. Each exhibit features hands-on applications of science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) to foster wonder and inspire creative problem solving for children from birth to twelve. NCM's mission is to inspire children to care about and improve the world.

The National Children's Museum is slated to reopen in 2019 in the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, just steps from the National Mall.


Capital Children's Museum (1974-2004)[edit]

NCM was founded as the Capital Children’s Museum in 1974. In 1979, it moved into a building at 220 H Street, NE in Washington, D.C.,[1] a former Little Sisters of the Poor home. In 2003, Congress identified a need for a nationally recognized cultural and educational institution specifically for children. The H Street location closed in August 2004.

Museum Without Walls (2004-2012)[edit]

After the closure of the H Street location, the National Children’s Museum operated as a “museum without walls,” forging partnerships with other organizations and participating in community events, educational outreach programs and traveling exhibits.

During this period, NCM participated in a wide variety of events include the White House Easter Egg Roll, the National Cherry Blossom Festival, the Marine Corps Marathon, Kids Euro Festival, Nickelodeon's Worldwide Day of Play, and NCM's own JumpOFF! and CycleFest, reaching hundreds of thousands of children and families each year.

NCM staff has conducted educational outreach activities in 14 states, presenting the Museum’s Family Literacy Projects on a Budget teacher training programs.

Launch Zone (2009-2012)[edit]

The Launch Zone opened at National Harbor, Maryland, in 2009. The 2,700-square-foot space offered exhibits and programming to young children and their families. There was no charge for admission, and it was open to the public seven days a week.

The Launch Zone closed on September 3, 2012, in preparation for NCM's December 14, 2012, opening in a larger space at National Harbor.

NCM had two major exhibit areas: 3 & Under and Our World. Columbus, Ohio-based Roto Studio designed the 2,700-square-foot 3 & Under exhibit space, and Boston-based Amaze Design was appointed to fabricate the 9,000-square-foot Our World exhibit, way-finding signage, and donor wall. Both firms specialize in museum exhibit design.

On November 14, 2014, NCM announced that it would relocate back to Washington, D.C.

The Next Chapter[edit]

NCM closed at National Harbor in early January 2015 after having announced that it will relocate back to Washington, D.C. It is slated to re open in 2019, adjacent to the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center. The new space is Metro accessible, sitting right on Woodrow Wilson plaza adjacent the Federal Triangle stop, and will also feature a public cafe and espresso bar. [2]

External links[edit]


Sutton, Benjamin, "National Children’s Museum Eyes November Opening, Will Boast on Big Wheel Racetrack", ArtInfo, June 6, 2012

Parker, Lonnae O'Neal, "National Children’s Museum (finally!) reopening at National Harbor", The Washington Post, June 12, 2012

Hager, Nathan, "National Children’s Museum one step closer to opening in Pr. George’s County",, June 12, 2012

Eatough, Allison, "Eight Great Museum Exhibits That Engage Children of All Ages", Maryland Family Magazine, July 22, 2012

Cooper, Rachel, "National Children’s Museum Fall Programming",, Aug. 29, 2012

Sowah, Jillian S. "Prince George’s County community calendar, Aug. 16-23, 2012", The Washington Post, Aug. 17, 2012

Cooper, Rachel, "Washington DC Events – Top Things to Do this Weekend",, Aug. 3, 2012

"Editor’s Pick: Go for the Gold", In the Loop: Washington Parent E-News, Aug. 2, 2012

"Meet a former Olympian at National Children’s Museum", Chesapeake Family Magazine, July 30, 2012

"Editor’s Pick: Go for the Gold", In the Loop: Washington Parent E-News, July 25, 2012

Sowah, Jillian S. "Things to do July 19-Aug. 2: Nicki Minaj, 2 Chainz, Ledisi and Eric Benet perform at DAR", The Washington Post, July 20, 2012

Sowah, Jillian S. "Prince George’s County wellness calendar, July 12-19", The Washington Post, July 12, 2012

"Editor’s Pick: SunWise", In the Loop: Washington Parent E-News, July 11, 2012

"National Children’s Museum to Open This Year at National Harbor",, June 14, 2012

  1. ^ "Landmark Lofts: Heavenly Luxury!". Archived from the original on 15 April 2014. Retrieved 14 April 2014.
  2. ^ McGlone, Peggy (19 December 2017). "Children's museum finds new home in the District". Washington Post. Retrieved 28 February 2018.

Coordinates: 38°47′00″N 77°00′51″W / 38.7833°N 77.0142°W / 38.7833; -77.0142