We love our museums in Washington, but these selections give you an experience that’s a little off the typical museum beaten path – and we like that.
By Shannon O’Reilly
Check out the 14,000 square feet dedicated to the game of pinball at The National Pinball Museum in Georgetown. Visitors will learn about the history of pinball and machines, beginning with Bagatelle, the 18th century precursor to pinball, to modern day computerized pinball renditions. You can also step into the Pinball Theater to watch short films detailing the history of the game. In the Pay-To-Play area, you can test your own skills with an array of games on machines that are sure to be a throw back to the old arcade days. The National Pinball Museum’s goal is to go beyond the tradition museum model to create an interactive learning museum.
Build Your Knowledge
The National Building Museum takes a close look at architecture, design, engineering, construction, and urban planning. Visitors will learn about famous architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright and Albert Kahn and see a full scale sustainable house built right in the museum’s gallery. Current exhibits include “LEGO Architecture: Towering Ambition,” where fifteen buildings around the world are recreated entirely from LEGO bricks and “Washington: Symbol and City,” a close look at the Capitol’s historic architecture and its significance. The National Building Museum serves as a venue for debate about the built environment and its impact on people’s lives.
See A Thread of History
At the Textile Museum, learn about the world and it’s people not through a book but in the form of textiles, 275 rugs and 60 related textiles to be exact. These are not your typical area rug. Instead, the collection includes nearly 18,000 objects that date back to 3,000 B.C. and encompasses arts from Africa, Asia, and Latin America. To top it off, the museum is housed in a classical Georgian building that includes a beautiful, private garden in the Kalorama neighborhood of D.C. Current exhibits include “Green: The Color and The Cause,” a study of the color green in textiles, and “Second Live: The Age Old Art of Recycling Textiles.”
Find Your Sea Legs
Take a break from land and walk through the USS Barry, a former Navy Destroyer that served between 1956 and 1982. Permanently docked at the Washington Navy Yard, take a trip through narrow passageways, steep ladders, and low overheads while learning from naval seamen about the crew’s daily activities and how they carried out its missions. See the various rooms that our seeped in history and that have popped up in pop culture, such as in the T.V. series NCIS.