We love the National Portrait Gallery and its beautiful architecture. The tranquil courtyard is full of light and has such a serene vibe in contrast to the busy streets of Chinatown just outside of the gallery. It got much more popular these days after the portraits of Obama’s came here earlier this year, but it still offers enough room for our babies and toddlers on the Hill to enjoy! We usually take the metro, Red Line from Union Station to Gallery Place Station. The elevator from the platform takes you to the 7th Street, where you can find the gallery right outside of the elevator by Capitol One Arena. The accessible entrance to the gallery is on G Street.
Our favorite space of the gallery is definitely The Explore! Family Room. It is rather a small room but has some really cool artistic features that represent the Portrait Gallery. We love how the room is new and clean and also has a lot of cushions and pillows to sit on to enjoy the quality books they have there. It is also a very nursing-friendly area, so little babies and mommies can definitely have some fun too. The theme of this room is for kids to experiment with portraiture. There are kid-height mirrors, magnets with facial parts on them, and building blocks with different facial expressions on them.
Our 20 months old toddler is not old enough to fully enjoy all the activities in the room, but she can still spend quite a long time here without getting bored. There is a projected video art piece where you and your kids can strike a pose in front of the camera, and the series of short video clips would be projected on the screen. This could be a very creative project with your kids! Another fun activity you can experience is where you can get your silhouettes projected on the desk and trace it to make your own portraits. I love how this room could be pretty educational for the parents/caretakers too.
They also have storytime at 2pm Tuesday to Friday (Please check the latest schedule on their calendar.) Not sure how long they will sustain the program though because the last few times we went, we were the only participants! But I love the fact that it falls on the afternoon time when all other kids programs in the neighborhood are usually in the morning time. Last time we went, the ladies from D.C. Public Library did a wonderful storytime session with books, scarfs and lots of songs.
If your kids are not too tired exploring all the activities in this room, you can also enjoy the beautiful courtyard in the middle of the gallery. The architecture is absolutely breathtaking, it must be one of the most beautiful spaces in D.C.. It has a high glass roof and a spacious area where kids can enjoy walking around. At times, there is an area where a big stream of water running on the floor. I love how my daughter was able to play with water safely, but I was not ready for her to completely get WET when she sat on the water!! She fell on it too so it was a bit of a disaster. Next time we need to bring a change of clothes and splash-friendly shoes… It also has a cafe that offers salad, soup and snacks. We love coming here for lunch and spend a long time inside of the gallery.
National Portrait Gallery
8th and F Streets NW
Washington, DC 20001
11:30 AM – 7:00 PM daily
Closed December 25
Admission is free
Closest Metro Station : Gallery Place/Chinatown
Stroller Accessible Entrance : G Street side
I hope you enjoy your visit 🙂
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