WASHINGTON, DC — Just weeks after opening, The National Children’s Museum closed it’s doors to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and in the meantime, has been offering online programming for families.
Located on 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest and adjacent to the Ronald Reagan Building, the museum features several exhibits like the Dream Machine, which allows kids to climb up to man-made clouds and slide down a huge slide as well as the Innovation Sandbox that gives children a peek into digital and visual experiences.
The museum was built to connect with all kids and includes wheelchair accessibility, a mother's room with stroller parking, quiet rooms for sensory-friendly kids, and open captioning with audio for every video display.
The last 60 days have been a rollercoaster of emotions, Crystal Bowyer, President and CEO of the museum told 104.7 WONK FM’s Jen Richer.
“It’s been incredible, we opened our doors on February 24th after 17 years without a permanent home in D.C., we finally got those doors open, and hosted two sell out weekends, and thousands of visitors, but then 18 days later we were closing due to COVID-19,” Bowyer said.
What started out as and exciting couple of weeks for the museum, Bowyer was faced with the same hard choices many are facing around the country.
“It’s been incredibly difficult, we were releasing a lot of our part-time staff that was working in the museum, as soon as we had to close, we weren’t able to provide them with hours on the floor, which was the first difficult step,” Bowyer explained.
The museum had to switch gears and find creative ways to continue their mission to engage children through Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) programing.
“I am really fortunate to just have a dedicated, wonderful group of professionals on the team at the museum and so as soon as we closed we said, how can we continue supporting children at this time. We had to completely shift gears and start thinking about virtual programs and how we could inspire children remotely,” Bowyer said.
For the last several weeks, the National Children’s Museum has been offering STEAMwork, or virtual programs online every day at 2:30p EST on their facebook page.
One way to help support the museum and its staff under the pandemic is by having your family join as members of the museum.
“I would actually recommend that people do that now because we do know that when we reopen in the summer, we will not have our soft-opening pricing anymore, so right now family membership is still available for families to come for an entire year, without paying admission for $130 dollars,” Bowyer suggested.
Membership is available now online at NationalChildrensMuseum.org but the membership will start counting the day they re-open. Buying your membership ahead of time not only locks in your price, but it also helps to support the staff.
“It’s incredibly helpful because it helps us maintain the staff during the time that we don’t have ticket revenue. We are not federally appropriated like the other museums on the National Mall, so for us we are really driven right now by our membership support, by donations, and philanthropy, and so it’s critical for us that we find new members and support from the community during this tough time,” Bower said.
Listen to the full interview with Crystal Bowyer, President and CEO of the National Children's Museum here: