Places to Go - Discovering Family-Friendly Art and History at the Corcoran & DAR Museums (Washington DC)


On Saturday, we headed over to the Corcoran Gallery of Art for their (FREE!) Great Escape Family Day celebration. This was our first visit to the Corcoran with the kids in tow and let me tell you - they REALLY know how to throw a party. We arrived to a teenage a cappella group singing Old Crow Medicine Show's "Wagon Wheel" on the museum's steps (and doing a fantastic job). Once inside, we immediately received a bag and program, while in the main auditorium a huge group of children gathered around a circus performer. Upstairs, different galleries offered face painting, crafts, and a family photo booth. Period costumed actors "masqueraded" throughout the museum, accompanied, in one room, by live music.

Of course (because this is how we roll lately), my kids ignored all of child-focused activities, asking if we could check out the art instead. So we explored Alex Prager's Face in the Crowd exhibit (which closed on Sunday) and played the "art game" while wandering through various modern art galleries (in the game, someone picks an adjective and everyone tries to find an artwork that best exemplifies the chosen word). All in all, a wonderful morning (and don't let my photos fool you, the museum was packed, only the modern art galleries were empty). I'm not sure what the future holds for the Corcoran (the museum recently merged with the National Gallery of Art and George Washington University), but if they host another family day, we'll be there.


After leaving the Corcoran, we decided to spend some time on the National Mall and, while walking past Daughters of the American Revolution's ("DAR's") headquarters, the kids noticed a sign for DAR's museum and asked if we could go inside. Have any of you ever been here before? It's actually a cool (FREE!) off-the-beaten path destination. Upon arrival, we toured the museum's current exhibit on "Creating the Ideal Home 1800-1939" where displays focused on early tvs ("Mom, can you imagine only having 5 channels?") and vacuum cleaners that required two people to operate. The kids enjoyed attempting to lift a wooden bucket and a steel iron (somewhat ironically, this is the first iron my children have ever picked up). The exhibit was small and simple, but still a nice place to stop in for a few minutes.


We then toured (with a docent) the museum's "period" rooms, sponsored by various states. The rooms range between time periods and household income, thus offering numerous historical perspectives on the US experience. For example, the CA room focuses on turn-of-the century whaling, whereas the Texas sponsored room demonstrates German and Czech influence and decoration (I had a hard time photographing the interiors, but you can "tour" them all online here). Luckily, the docent knew the perfect details and stories to keep the kids entertained. And, the beautiful halls and library gave me plenty of material for photographs. The docent noted that in summer the museum opens up a third floor full of period children's toys and costumes, so we'll be checking that out in a few months.

Anyways, I don't usually think of the Corcoran or DAR as family destinations, but they both proved wonderful places to take the kids. And with the Lincoln Memorial so close, I now think of the National Mall's west end as a more dynamic place to visit.

For more information on the DAR museum, click here. And for more information on the Corcoran's family programing, click here.


  1. Awesome! I've always wanted to take the kids to both of those. Thanks for sharing!

  2. We were at Family Day too and my kids are actually in the picture at the top there (the two blondes in the second row.) I tried to download just that picture but couldn't get it to work. Anyway you could email me a copy of just that pic? josiebmorris at gmail.com thanks!



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