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National Gallery of Art: Summer Programs for Kids

Aching for a bit of museum time without the summer crowds?
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Check out the National Gallery of Art.

I know what you’re thinking.

“An art museum? What is she thinking? Recommending the National Gallery of Art to me and my busy-bodied kids?”

Hear me out.

The National Gallery of Art has films, tours, guides and programs just for kids throughout the year. The NGAkids Art Zone is also available online with interactive features, in the case you can’t make it to the museum (if don’t want to look for parking, drag your children through the metro system, or brave the humidity).

This summer, they will have activities nearly every week in July and August for kids.

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The Stories in Art series is open for children ages 4-7. The 60-minute program aims to introduce young kids to art through careful looking, storytelling, and hands-on experimentation. Led by museum educators, each program includes reading a children’s book, exploring one work of art in the galleries, and completing a simple hands-on activity.

Artful Conversation is open to children ages 8-11. Each week’s 70 minute discussion is accompanied by activities such as sketching, writing poetry, creating sounds, or making connections between works of art. Children who attend three or more programs receive a prize.

Registration for each program at the National Gallery of Art is free, and spaces are filled on a first come-first-served basis. More information on times and locations is available here.

There will also be two movies shown this summer for kids in the East Building. Mary Poppins and Movin’ and Groovin’. No food and drink are permitted in the auditorium.

If you decide to go to the National Gallery of Art this summer, I recommend stopping by the nearby Sculpture Garden before (if you’re hoping for some sleepy kids so you can enjoy the museum), or afterward if you’re packing a picnic and want to get a few extra wiggles out before heading home. The museum is  very large, so don’t expect to see it all in a day. If you need to calm a fussy toddler, take the moving walkway between the two buildings. My little one also loves pushing the stroller around the rotunda while my husband enjoys the Medieval artwork (and then I stroll through the Impressionist galleries).

My daughter and I may not be able to check out Musée d’Orsay or walk through the Louvre— but staring at a Renoir or Monet in the National Gallery of Art is almost just as good.

  • 6th Street and Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20565
  • Admission is free
  • Open Monday- Saturday from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Open Sunday from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. Closed January 1 and December 25.
  • Nearest Metro stops are Judiciary Square (Red Line), Archives–Penn Quarter–Navy Memorial (Yellow/Green Lines), and Smithsonian (Blue/Orange Lines). Metered street parking is generally available on weekdays.
  • National Gallery of Art, NGA Kids Zone and family activities

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