Field Trip Failure


We live near DC.  Great, right?  Lots of historical sites, the whole National Mall with its length of museums, and the entire political spectrum to avoid (whoops!  I meant study.)  It’s a great place to homeschool and I truly mean that, all jokes aside.

But, sometimes, much-touted locations turn into a waste of time and money.  Like this one.

This image is a quick shot I took of the interior of the National Building Museum.  It’s huge.  It has amazing exhibits.  And it’s not very kid friendly at all.

You can’t see it in the picture, but there’s a nice little wading pool smack dab in the middle of the museum.  At least, that’s what my kids thought it was.  No fountain, no barrier, no fence of any type to prevent small children or absent-minded adults from walking right into it.  That was our introduction to the museum, and it instantly set off some wary little red flags in my mommy brain.

Who does that?  A random pool for no apparent reason?  Weird.  And of course, all three children were drawn to it like birds to the crumbs on the carpet.

Now, you might think it’s a kid friendly museum.  After all, they have the much-advertised Building Zone designed just for kids.  It’s so popular that you have to get special tickets for specific time slots.  And on this visit, they had an exhibit geared toward kids titled Play Work Build that looked awesome on the website.  We’ve been meaning to go ever since I missed the giant ball pit exhibit, so we headed into the city with Mr. Genius to check out the new exhibit.

The Engineer summed up our trip inside the Timber City room: “can we leave?  This is booooorrrrrrring!”

It really wasn’t boring.  I would love to go back sans kids and wander around the many exhibits.  It wasn’t boring, but it wasn’t kid-friendly.  The Building Zone was nice but small and tired.  Our local discovery museums were much better and more well-thought out.  The Engineer went straight for the magnetic ball run on the wall but quickly got frustrated when the pieces didn’t work together because of the disparate sizes.

I wanted to laugh hysterically when we visited the dollhouse exhibit: boy did we get the stink-eye from the older patrons!  My kids excitedly looked at the extremely ornate dollhouses and pushed the buttons to turn on their lights.  To kids, dollhouses are toys.  To the older patrons, dollhouses are serious business worthy of intense scrutiny and my kids were a distraction.  We left fairly quickly even though our kids were behaving.

On a side note, I am so proud of the Engineer!  Despite the small space and the mass of people, he held it together in the Play Work Build exhibit.  Later, in the Building Zone, he was polite and well-behaved even in the face of the child who informed him that she only had to share with her friends, and he wasn’t her friend.  He even handled the episode where the adult shoved him aside to get to the ball run.  He really did a great job, and it was such a positive experience in that regard.

Oh well, lesson learned.  We should stick to the museums that I know the kids enjoy until they’re older.

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