Most days I feel like wrestling my 15-month-old is a full time gig with no breaks, no praise and few physical rewards. By the time we’re both fed, exercised, bathed, dressed and ready– it’s usually time to nap or eat again. The last thing I want to even think about doing is finding a parking spot in DC near one of the museums, or dragging my stroller onto the metro (all the while praying the elevators and escalators I need are working).
But then I remind myself, it’s the most wonderful time of the year. Fall.
You see, school is in. Preschool has started. Congress is in session.The humidity is low, tourist season is steadily trailing off until Thanksgiving– and the weather is perfect.
It’s a pretty perfect time of year to head into DC if there’s something at some museum you’ve been wanting
to drag your toddler to your child to experience. The crowds are minimal. The exhibits have few waits. Daily programs are still going on. And moms like me can usually still score a pretty great parking spot at 11:30 a.m. right on Constitution.
Here’s a rundown of some of the Smithsonian exhibits closing later this year:
- American Art Museum: The Art of Video Games– Ends Sept. 30
- Natural History Museum: Against All Odds: Rescue at the Chilean Mines– Ends Sept. 30
- S. Dillon Ripley Center: Pushing Boundaries: Portraits by Robert Weingarten– Ends Oct. 14
- American History Museum: Slavery at Jefferson’s Monticello: Paradox of Liberty– Ends Oct. 14 (this display is part of the African American History and Culture Museum scheduled to open in 2015)
- Natural History Museum: More Than Meets the Eye– Ends Nov. 4
- Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Gallery: Directions: Antonio Rovaldi– Ends Nov. 11
- Sackler Gallery: Nomads and Networks: The Ancient Art and Culture of Kazakhstan– Ends Nov. 12
- Air & Space Museum: Aircraft: The Jet as Art– Ends Nov. 25
- African Art Museum: African Cosmos: Stellar Arts– Ends Dec. 9
- National Zoo: Jessie Cohen: An Eye for Animals– Ends Dec. 31
It looks like the American History Museum is shaking things up later this year, closing the Julia Child’s Kitchen exhibit following her 100th birthday celebration in August. The museum is also removing the 1939 exhibit featuring items from the year such as the Scarecrow Hat from the Wizard of Oz and Joe Louis’s boxing gloves. If you haven’t had a chance to get to the Pause and Play: A Pop-Up Gallery area on the 1st floor, do it! It opened in April, and has hands on activities including a graffiti wall where kids (young and not-so-young) can draw their own comics and play with toys from the 1950s and 1960s including Mr. Potato Head. It’s a great break time point for a museum filled day.
I haven’t ventured to the Art of the Video Games yet, but am hoping to make it this week or next. I love the idea of seeing the evolution of art through the games popular during my childhood. I am also looking forward to playing a little Super Mario Brothers or Pac-Man— some of the hands on activities available in the exhibit.
My recommendations are to get there early (the museums open at 10 in the fall), pack snacks, wear comfortable shoes, have a good attitude and make it fun. There are so many volunteers at every museum, willing and ready to introduce youngsters to science, history and art. It’s time to come out of your house and back into DC– summer’s over and the outrageous humidity may be gone for the season. I hope. I don’t know how much more my hair can handle.