EDITOR’S NOTE: This post was updated at 6 p.m. on June 12, 2012.
Two important questions for parents were answered Tuesday when the National Children’s Museum, formerly the Capital Children’s Museum, broke ground on its new outdoor facility eight years after closing its H street Northeast location.
When will the museum finally reopen, and will it still host birthday parties?
The answers: The indoor facility at the National Harbor is scheduled to open in November, and yes — yes! — it is still going to host parties. For this and many other reasons, the museum’s imminent return to the area’s parenting landscape is welcome news for families around the region.
Kathy Southern, NCM president and CEO, says that during eight years as a “museum without walls” the institution has been involved in community and school outreach programs and partnerships with events such as the White House’s Easter Egg roll. But she’s been constantly asked about the museum’s reopening.
“It takes a while to build a museum,” Southern said. The organization’s 2003 designation as a national museum, she added, “put another level of responsibility on our work.”
Officials eyed District spaces before settling on Prince George’s County. The museum comprises the new park and an 18,000-square-foot indoor facility. The latter, housed in an existing building, will include a “3 & Under” gallery, “Our World,” an area with a geography, civics and communities focus intended for kids 3-12 and a permanent home for the Sesame Workshop.
Guests at Tuesday’s groundbreaking for the museum’s nearby 60,000-square-foot outdoor space — scheduled to open in May 2013 — included Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III, National Children’s Museum board chairman Ross Hechinger and Walkaround Elmo. The outdoor facility will include community gardens, an amphitheater and a Big Wheel raceway.
Southern, who will retire at the end of the month, says it will be good to have everything centralized again, though the staff will be racing to make the November deadline. “We’ll probably arrive five minutes before the kids.”