10 Art Museums With Virtual Activities for Kids

You might be surprised to learn that my family, children included, like visiting art museums. Art museums have come a long way from just “silently standing and looking at paintings some old guy or girl made a million years ago.” Today, so many art museums are finding new ways to engage children and welcome families into their galleries. We wrote about the many benefits of taking children to art museums last year in this post featuring the Guggenheim in New York City. A huge bonus? Most of these museums, and other art museums, offer FREE admission for children, usually ages 16 and under.

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Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.

Disclaimer: I have chosen to continue my weekly blog posts sharing our recent adventures exploring America. Our family has been safely quarantined for over a month and we will continue to do so until it safe to head out on our next adventure. The travel tips and recommendations we share were current at the time of visitation in 2019-2020. We recommend helping our country (and world) by staying home and planning for future adventures. We hope these posts bring you inspiration and motivation to plan your next trip!

One of the oldest buildings in Washington DC and now a National Historic Landmark building, The Donald W. Reynold Center for American Art and Portraiture is home to both the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery. The complex first opened to the public in 1968 and completed renovations in the early 2000s. Both institutions, overseen by the Smithsonian Institute, are housed in the same complex. The Portrait Gallery has over 23,000 pieces of art in its collection and began officially commissioning portraits of presidents, beginning with George H.W. Bush. The American Art Museum is home to one of the largest collection of American art in the world and includes The Luce Foundation Center for American Art, housed on the 3rd floor. The Luce collection has more than 3,000 pieces of art in mediums from paintings to sculptures to medals to jewelry.

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National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington DC

Part of the Smithsonian Institute, the National Museum of African American History and Culture is one of the newer museums in Washington DC and opened in September of 2016. The museum was first conceptualized in 1915 but almost 100 years of obstacles and debates prevented it from becoming a reality until a presidential commission in 2001. Since its opening, the museum has welcomed over three million visitors in three years. The location was chosen for its intersection with the Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, Capitol building, and White House. The museum is nearly 400,000 square feet and currently displays 3,000 of the 37,000 items in its collection

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Four East Coast Cities With Nearby Fun

Large cities like Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, and DC are popular for good reason: There are historical sites dating back hundreds of years, tons of museums and galleries, and a seemingly endless variety of cultural events and ethnic food options. However, many of these large cities cast a bit of a “shadow” on nearby neighbors that can hold their own with visitors! We’ve spent some time over the past couple of years exploring some “smaller” cities within a short drive of well known metropolitans and we wanted to share many places to explore if you find yourself in town with an extra day or weekend.

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National Museum of the American Indian in Washington DC

We recently visited the National Museum of the American Indian in New York City (read about our adventures here) and less than a week later we were in Washington DC and spent a few hours (and a yummy lunch!) at the Washington Museum. You can also read about our adventures at several other Washington DC museums here.

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National Museum of American History in Washington DC

Part of the Smithsonian Institute, the National Museum of American History originally opened in 1964 as the National Museum of History and Technology and was renamed in 1980. The museum, located on Washington DC’s National Mall, has almost 2 million objects in its collection and several galleries to explore. The museum has over a dozen engaging exhibits to explore and it will take the better part of a full day to see them all!

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