National Children’s Museum Coming Back to DC in 2015


From a press release:

“The National Children’s Museum (NCM) announced that it will relocate to Washington, D.C. from its location at National Harbor in 2015. The current site in Prince George’s County, Md. has welcomed more than 250,000 visitors in the two years since opening, though challenges such as lack of nearby public transportation, available space and affordable options to expand the building have made it difficult to extend the museum’s exhibits and programming to a broader community of children, families and tourists throughout the metro area.

According to Chairman of the NCM Board of Directors S. Ross Hechinger, limits to accessibility and program space have created barriers to fulfilling the museum’s mission in recent years. “The mission of the National Children’s Museum is ‘to inspire children to care about and improve the world.’ By returning to the District, the Board believes the museum can better serve all children across the metropolitan area, as well as the thousands of tourists who have been our traditional visitors,” said Hechinger. Hechinger acknowledged both Prince George’s County and state of Maryland government officials for their support for NCM at National Harbor.

Washington, D.C. Councilmember Jack Evans said he endorsed the Board’s decision to relocate to the District, stating, “As a former board member, I am delighted to welcome the museum and its dedicated staff back to the District. I anticipate the new administration will be eager to embrace such an important institution that will benefit children of all ages for years to come.”

Former D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams echoed Evans’ support, saying, “A new location in D.C. will mean all children, regardless of their ZIP code, will be able to walk through the museum’s doors and be inspired.”

LuAnn Bennett, co-chair of NCM, is leading the search for a new location in the District, which will be announced as soon as the site is confirmed. During the transition, NCM plans to continue operating the institution’s many successful programs throughout the region. The museum expects to continue to serve a quarter of a million children through various trademark programs and events, such as annual participation in the White House Easter Egg Roll, July 4th on the Mall activities, the National Institute of Health (NIH) Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) in collaboration with Children’s National Medical Center, and the Family Literacy Projects on a Budget® programs.”

20 Comment

  • Is this the children’s museum that is being advertised in Ft. Totten?

    • Right, it was going to be at Ft. Totten, Art Place, but that was in 2008 – 2010, around the collapse of the commercial real estate market. The Children’s Museum had to move from its old space off of H Street NE, the new-at-the-time National Harbor gave it space for a song.

      According to the Art Place website, ( the development will have “a 47,000 square foot children’s museum”. They broke ground this summer so they are at least 2 years from anything.

  • This is great news! How much space does the museum need and would the Carnegie Library suffice? It’s a lot bigger than the current location.

    • I love the idea of using the Carnegie Library for the NCM. I used to work by the National Harbor location and I’ll never understand why they chose that site for it.

    • That’s a great idea! The original location, near Union Station was wonderful. It’s hard for me to imagine how any group of people around a table in a boardroom could have viewed the current location as being a good idea. It’s nice, perhaps, for tourists, but for the DC area parent with more than one kid who wants a safe, stimulating place to take the kids, the National Harbor location was horrible. Does anybody know what would have to happen to realistically get the Carnegie Library space? I’ve no idea how the Museum is funded, and I’m assuming that a fair amount of renovations would be needed to pull this off. I STILL have fond memories of the maze, the bubble room, Rosie the goat, and making Mexican chocolate with kids at the original location. This was one of my favorite places in DC. I hope they can recapture this vibe when they find a new space.

  • Good news. The current space is kind of a disaster – overcrowded. And living in the district, I hate making the trek down there, though it’s one of the only spaces truly dedicated to kids to play. Looking forward to what may come next.

  • Wow. Took them two years to realize there was a lack of public transportation to the Museum. Was this news? Was there a promised transit system proposed and not created?
    There is never going to be any more public transportation to that area! They wasted a hell of a lot of money that they could have used for better purposes by finding someplace where there was public transportation!

  • They should have never left the District to begin with.

  • This is welcome news. I’ve recently visited both the Boston and Charlotte Children’s museum with my daughter and nephews, and have thought how DC is missing a proper children’s museum.

  • I was considering taking some visiting friends’ kids there recently – but read the TripAdvisor and Yelp reviews and stayed away. (Also, I think of National Harbor the 10th circle of hell.)

    Sounds like it’s currently a waste of space and money. I hope they improve on it when it moves to the District- seems like it can hardly get worse:

  • The museum on Capitol Hill closed around the time my oldest was born and we never bothered to make the trip to National Harbor to the latest incarnation. Looking at the reviews on Tripadvisor, etc., it doesn’t appear that we missed anything.

  • This is good news. I remember going to the Capital Children’s Museum (NCM’s predecessor) when it was in DC. It was a fantastic place – hopefully with a new location and more space (I think they are looking for @50,000 sq ft) it will be fantastic again.

  • 250,000 visitors over two years works out to fewer than 350 visitors per day, assuming they’re open seven days a week.

  • Accountering

    Great news for the city to have another museum. Tourists are such a positive economic force in this city (and growing quickly) and another museum to absorb 50,000 open square feet is a huge win. Good to hear!

    • Agreed! Though, a children’s museum isn’t just for tourists. Big win for DC parents with children too, as its a great destination prime for repeat visits, particularly during the colder months. Currently, the Building Museum serves as the de-facto children’s museum in DC.

  • I Dont Get It

    That’s ok PG County–you’ll always have National Harbor.

  • I hope to God they don’t open in Ft Totten. That area needs a LOT ….but a Children’s Museum is not one of them!

    • I agree – the problem with Ft Totten is no tourists will ever go up there and there are no restaurants or other attractions in the area. The museum needs a location that will attract tourists and residents alike. It would be cool if they could set up shop in the Intelsat building on Connecticut, which is in a family friendly area that’s close to the zoo, easy to get to from Rock Creek Parkway and Bethesda, and only 2 blocks from the Metro. And best of all, it already looks like a children’s museum.

  • Great news. Anyone remember going to the original location on H Street as a kid? They had the BEST Mexican hot chocolate, I remember it being lots of fun. The new location is soulless, glad it’s making it’s way back to DC proper.

  • Ft. Totten would be a perfect location. It’s convenient to three lines, safe, and quiet. Very family friendly.

    Does this mean there is any possibility that the NCM is NOT going to be next to Ft. Totten metro? There has been a ton of construction lately.

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