Washington, DC 8

On our last day we missed seeing the International Spy Museum and the National Air and Space Museum for the same reason – it was a Saturday and I didn’t think to get tickets in advance. Kids, fortunately, were stoic (like Zeus) and patient. I gave them a choice between the National Portrait Gallery and National Building Museum and they picked the latter.

The Building Museum is located in an enormous magnificent empty building. It’s surrounded by a frieze by Casper Buberl detailing the units of the Union Army that deserves a separate exhibition on its own. There are photos on the museum site: https://www.nbm.org/about/historic-home/

The middle of the central hall normally has a fountain which is currently covered by a sculpture, Look Here by Suchi Reddy. The point of the sculpture is for the viewer to see themeselves reflected in photos of historical acts of protest printed on the reflective forms and to consider that they, the viewer, as well as architecture, are both parts of shaping our society for the better. The small grey squares you can barely see in the middle are bed-sized pillows and rocking chairs on which tired parents recline while their children take part in the LEGO build on the second floor. It is a beautiful and restful spot, which qualities distract from the message of protest and activism.

Besides the LEGO build there’s an empty room with posters about the life of the founder, General Meigs, a room with a collection of animals in sculpture (very beautiful, but insufficiently explained), some great doll houses and scale models of historical homes , and a really cool exhibit showing different ways of framing a house.

There are also a lot of empty rooms and a general feeling that we should’ve come during an event or performance. Totally worth it for the beauty and the LEGO break, but next time I’m looking at their calendar before visiting.

Traveling with kids means that there’s only a short window to see things, and it’s approximately 9 am to 3 pm. After that it’s food and physical activity time. Younger Kid requires 3 hours of physical activity per day plus bed-flopping breaks.

Overall, it was a great trip – much easier and less stressful than I expected. We saw completely different things than I thought we’d see, ate different foods than I thought we’d eat, and spent far more time at the gym with more enjoyment than I would have believed.

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