“Mom, if you want to quote me, you can say that I said, ‘This is lame, lame, lame,’” Washington Post critic Petula Dvorak quoted her eight-year-old as saying during a recent visit to the new National Children’s Museum. Her six-year-old son, meanwhile, was more spare and biting in his criticism, dismissing the $7-million, 18,000-square-foot institution as “boring.”
Why is the new interactive museum so “lame,” “boring,” and, according to one Yelp reviewer Dvorak quoted, “a second rate tourist trap”? Its slight size, she suggests, is one factor — it led another Yelper to say that it “isn’t a children’s museum, it’s a mid-sized playzone.” Its small, one-floor space can’t compete with other kids’ museums like Baltimore’s Port Discovery, which boasts 80,000 square feet, the 88,000-square-foot Boston Children’s Museum, or the cavernous Children’s Museum of Indianapolis and its 472,000 square feet.
Part of parents’ and tots’ shared disappointment may stem from the National Children’s Museum’s “national” designation — it is the only kid-focused institution recognized by Congress — which would seem to promise bigger and better things. Others are still enamored with Washington, D.C.’s previous children’s museum, which closed at its location in the city’s northeast in 2004, and has only just reopened at this new spot in National Harbor, Maryland.
As one Yelp reviewer not quoted by Dvorak said, concluding her critique of the National Children’s Museum: “We got a refund on all 5 tickets, and salvaged the day by driving 3 miles away to Chuck E Cheese, which seemed like utopia compared to this museum.”
— Benjamin Sutton
(Image via the National Children’s Museum/Facebook.)