Everyone knows how cool National Museum of African American History & Culture (NMAAHC) looks on the outside, but do you know how cool it is inside?? We had been wanting to visit this new museum ever since it opened in late 2016. It took us a while to obtain the very popular timed-pass but we finally got visit for the first time in December 2017 with our then 15 months old daughter. It only takes about 10-15 minutes on Circulator Red Line from Union Station. The museum is closest to Stop No. 5.
Since the museum is new and popular, we got advanced timed pass tickets here. But the second time we went was February 2017. It was a quiet weekday morning and we just decided to show up at the museum to see if we could grab a walk-in ticket, and we did get in with no problem!
There is so much to see at this museum as it has four floors and three-story basement. But I would say that my toddler enjoyed the Culture Galleries on the 4th floor and the interactive “Exolore More!” on the 2nd floor the most. The three-story basement is an amazing history presentation, where I got to learn so much about African American history while my toddler was sleeping in her stroller. I was so shocked to learn how little I knew about the history, and I must come back when my child is old enough to understand.
Explore More! on the second floor is an educational interactive area, and this is where we spent most of our time. Our absolute favorite is a Step Show where you can practice the cultural dance of steps with the professional dance company, Step Afrika. It was so much fun to follow the steps on the screen and it even shows your silhouettes so we could see how well (or badly) my little one and I were doing. There is also a car where you can sit in the driver’s seat to learn what it was like to travel for African Americans in the 30s-60s with the Green Book. In the back of the floor, there is a huge interactive screen where my toddler enjoyed touching to see the museum’s collection.
The Culture Gallery on the 4th floor is full of African American cultural icons. I am a big fan of black music, so it got me very excited to see the old video recordings of Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, James Brown and many more iconic African American stars in the Musical Crossroads exhibition. The first thing you see when you walk into this exhibition is Chuck Berry’s cadillac , how cool is that? My toddler enjoyed listening to this quality music too, as well as all the instruments and costumes that belonged to the historical musicians and actors. There was plenty of room for her to wobble around. There is also an interactive screen where you can experience song mixing and I learned how hard it actually is to be a music producer while my toddler was stomping her feet to the beat.
Another fabulous thing about this museum is its cafeteria. The Sweet Home Cafe offers such delicious dishes and it does not feel like a regular museum cafe food! I tried their Fried Chicken, and it was so good. We didn’t see any high chairs when we visited. But it is pretty spacious and the stroller was manageable.
Don’t forget to visit the Museum Store on your way out! (I never do, haha) They have a very good selection of books for kids, and the ones we bought there turned out to be my daughter’s everyday favorites. Let me introduce our favorite books- “Shades of Black”, “What is Hip-Hop?” and “Mister and Lady Day”.
One more tip, when you register for the timed-pass, make sure to count your little ones, too.
Have a fun visit!
1400 Constitution Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20001
Hours: 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m
Closest Metro Station : Gallery Place/Chinatown
Stroller Accessible Entrance : G Street side
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