NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. – Nearly eight years after it vacated its old home near Union Station, the National Children’s Museum is a step closer to reopening in a new, expanded space in Prince George’s County.
The museum held a groundbreaking of sorts Tuesday for its 18,000 square foot indoor space at National Harbor.
More accurately, it was a wall-busting, with a life-sized incarnation of Sesame Street’s Elmo tearing through a paper wall that had been taped up at the site, now under construction.
The museum plans to open the indoor exhibits this winter. A 60,000 square foot outdoor experience — a “museum without a roof,” as museum officials term it — will follow in May 2013.
“This will provide entertainment for our children, it will provide a learning experience for our children, but more importantly it will provide another avenue in Prince George’s County for us to once again improve the quality of life,” says County Executive Rushern Baker, who was on hand for the groundbreaking.
The National Children’s Museum used to be known as the Capitol Children’s Museum, before development along D.C.’s H Street Corridor led it to close its space there.
It’s been operating a small Launch Zone at National Harbor since 2009. That space is set to close this September in preparation for the new museum.
It’s estimated about 480,000 children will visit the new museum every year, with about 80 percent of them coming from the D.C. area.
Ticket prices and hours have not been announced yet.
The museum has also launched a campaign to raise $18 million toward opening the new facility. It’s working with private donors, county and state government and the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission toward meeting that goal.