Museum Day Live!: National Building Museum

Did anyone else take advantage of Museum Day Live! this past Saturday and visited a museum that normally has a fee? Long time readers know that I am a deal seeker, so you bet that I didn't miss the opportunity to drag the family to the National Building Museum in DC.

I've read many praises about the NBM on several local DC blogs, mostly about how family-friendly it is. Now, the name of the museum probably doesn't suggest it to be a fun place, but it actually has two exhibits designated for kids and the Great Hall is a wonderful place for the kids to just run and get their crazies out.
We got there early, parked right in the front at a meter parking, paid $5 for Anna (the Museum Day Live! was good for 2 people and Will was free), and then we were free to roam around.

The Building Zone exhibit was designed for children 2-6, so age appropriate for my kids and they definitely seemed to enjoy it. The large play room was filled with things that encourage kids to build and use their imagination and pretend. I think mine enjoyed the soft blocks the most - building them high and body-slamming them down.
Then we went to the WORK PLAY BUILD exhibit for more things to build with. This exhibit is probably more suited for older kids, so my kids' extent of play was pretending to fish with the blue foam noodles. Hehe. I thought the interactive video screen was pretty cool, though. The kids had a good laugh with that.
But, overall, I thought the NBM was just so-so. Yes, definitely kids-friendly because my kids ran, jumped, and explored loudly throughout the Great Hall and no one told them to stop. That part was good...but that part was free anyway on any day. The museum is free to enter, fyi.

As for the exhibits, as fun/interesting/educational as they were, we will probably not be returning. I didn't think the normal $8 for adults and $5 for kids was worth it. At all. So I was glad that at least we visited during a free day and got to check it out. Now I can put my curiosity to rest.

(ps. If you only want to visit The Building Zone exhibit, that's $3 per person.  pps. There are other exhibits besides the two we visited, but they were for adults.)

What did Anna think of that place? This is what she told me:

As we were leaving: "I want to stay here forever! This place is so fun!"
The next morning: "Can we go back to that museum? The museum with the toys?" In which Luke replied, "We don't have money." She said, "I have money in my piggy bank, we can use that."

So it's safe to say that she liked it.  :)

After the museum, we went to Chinatown, only blocks away, and had lunch before walking back to our car.
And this was where our day got sad.

When we got to the car, we found a parking ticket of $25 stuck under the windshield wiper.

We had been fined for not paying to park.

We were stunned and in disbelief and ANNOYED THAT THE COP MADE A MISTAKE.

But, after some investigation, we realized that we had paid to park at the WRONG ZONE. Using that stupid Parkmobile app (where we paid using Luke's phone), we had paid to park elsewhere and not where we actually parked at.

We were sad, angry, and felt that this trip was a big waste. After all, it was supposed to cost nothing.

But, eh, we got over it before we even got home. Next time, we will be more careful and double check everything. Actually, next time I am putting those damn quarters in the meter myself. No more apps.


  1. I've never heard of the National Building Museum. DC has so many museums one could spend months and months just walking through them all! I know I would enjoy many of them (if there were no crowds!)

  2. Great first photo! Thanks for letting me know that it's just a so-so place to go with kids, even if Anna loooved the place :). Too bad about the ticket. I hate tickets. Remember those quarters next time :P.

  3. Those giant legos look like so much fun! Such a bummer about the parking ticket. It's been raining a lot here in Oregon, so we will probably be visiting more indoor places in the coming months. Have a great day!

  4. Looks like the kids had such a great time! If you still have the receipt showing that you paid to park (even in the wrong zone), perhaps you could dispute the ticket. But disputing is always a hassle so I don't know if you want to even bother!

    xo, Yi-chia
    Always Maylee

    1. Yeah....disputing means that we would have to take time off to go into DC and park (haha, probably get another ticket while at it) and talk to various people. Not worth it!

  5. Museum was interesting, but nothing to write home about. The same can be said about DC's Chinatown. I've avoided that place for years and this last visit reminded me why. Just a sorry excuse of a place that thinks putting Chinese characters on a Starbucks makes it Asian. Oh well, this will keep me away for another 10 years until my memory of the place gets foggy with age.


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