After church today we went downtown to the American Art Museum/National Portrait Gallery. One of the things we wanted to see was a new exhibit: The Art of Video Games. The exhibit was ok, it seemed kind of gimmicky to me, a way that the museum was trying to appeal to kids or a larger audience. The boys weren’t as interested in it as I thought they would be. Although the giant Pacman screen was pretty cool to play and took me back to my 1980s childhood.
While we were there we also saw some patent models (the building used to be the Patent Office Building), an exhibit of photography of Asian-Americans, some portraits of the presidents and part of an exhibit on the War of 1812. All pretty interesting.
However, our real reason for going to this particular museum had more to do with this courtyard than what is on the walls. The indoor courtyard is between the two museums and is a great place to sit and hang out in all seasons. It’s completely indoors but light-filled and open and feels like being outdoors (but without the 99 degree temperatures). And most importantly it has a water scrim that is one of the coolest indoor attractions in DC. The scrim is a very thin layer of water that comes out onto the courtyard floor. As any parent knows, water is like a magnet to kids.
Perhaps the best thing is that like all Smithsonian museums, it’s all free. This is one of my top places to tell people about who are visiting DC with kids. It’s not on the National Mall but it’s worth the tiny bit of extra effort to visit.
But take my advice and bring a change of clothes for the kids.