Sunday Tribune - - TRAVEL - | The Wash­ing­ton Post

The Na­tional Chil­dren’s Mu­seum, at 1300 Penn­syl­va­nia Av­enue NW, Wash­ing­ton, DC, will cost $10.95 for age 1 and older.

The Na­tional Chil­dren’s Mu­seum is slated to re­open in 2019 in the Ronald Rea­gan Build­ing and In­ter­na­tional Trade Cen­ter, just steps from the Na­tional Mall. It is an in­ter­ac­tive chil­dren’s mu­seum serv­ing the Wash­ing­ton, DC metro area. In 2003, the United States Con­gress des­ig­nated NCM as the only na­tional mu­seum ded­i­cated en­tirely to chil­dren and their fam­i­lies.

Built on a foun­da­tion of in­spir­ing cu­rios­ity and life­long learn­ing, the Na­tional Chil­dren’s Mu­seum en­cour­ages vis­i­tors to imag­ine, in­ves­ti­gate, cre­ate, and play. NA­TIONAL Chil­dren’s Mu­seum of­fi­cials are aim­ing for their fa­cil­ity in down­town Wash­ing­ton, DC, to be a re­al­ity next north­ern spring, and they are hop­ing kids will think that vis­it­ing it is like step­ping into a dream.

“We wanted to cre­ate magic from the first mo­ment of en­try, and the climber and slide pro­vide that sense of fun and ad­ven­ture to trans­port chil­dren into a dream­like world,” said Crys­tal Bowyer, pres­i­dent of the mu­seum, which is be­ing re­built af­ter clos­ing down in 2015.

The climber and slide Bowyer is talk­ing about are part of the Dream Ma­chine, a 15.2m round struc­ture that will be at the cen­tre of the mu­seum, un­der con­struc­tion in the Ronald Rea­gan Build­ing.

It will fea­ture net­ting, ropes, two slides, mo­biles and balls, some large enough to climb in­side.

“I think the im­pres­sion will be, ‘Oh, look at that cool thing. Oh, there’s peo­ple in it. How do I get in’?” said Ron Davis from Gy­ro­scope, the com­pany that de­signed the Dream Ma­chine.

Davis, the project’s lead de­signer, said clouds were a big in­spi­ra­tion for the struc­ture. He and two co-work­ers looked on Pin­ter­est for ideas on how they could turn the idea of clouds dis­si­pat­ing, or break­ing up, into some­thing to climb on.

They came up with stacked balls, many of which will be glossy white on the out­side. Some will have a fin­ish like a mir­ror. Some will move. Net­ting that is translu­cent, or lets light through, will al­low vis­i­tors to climb in and around the balls.

“As you look up, the sort of twist­ing cloudy form will con­tinue,” Davis said.

A slide was a “must-have” part of the Dream Ma­chine, he said. A ride down the me­tal tube will take vis­i­tors from the main level to the lower level in a long curve.

“If you come down this slide, it’s like com­ing through a black hole,” he said.

That idea might be scary for some kids, so there will also be a smaller slide as a “starter ex­pe­ri­ence”.

Some vis­i­tors might fo­cus on the slide, but oth­ers might be at­tracted to the ropes and net­ting, Davis said.

“There are some peo­ple who will say, ‘My first chal­lenge is go­ing to be to get to the top,’” he said.

Davis and his two fel­low de­sign­ers didn’t want that task to be too easy. “The higher up you go, the more chal­leng­ing it is,” he said.

And although the de­sign­ers wanted to make the Dream Ma­chine chal­leng­ing and fun, they also had to make it safe and fit in­side the mu­seum’s cir­cu­lar stairs.

“The Gy­ro­scope team are some of the best ex­hibit de­sign­ers in the world,” Bowyer said.

“They spe­cialise in chil­dren’s mu­se­ums and sci­ence cen­tres, and since we are com­bin­ing these two plat­forms, they were the per­fect choice.”

Gy­ro­scope wanted to ac­com­mo­date young and old in the Dream Ma­chine. And the abil­ity to climb won’t be re­quired to en­joy it.

Davis said vis­i­tors in wheel­chairs would be able to as­cend it in a way that made them feel as though they had “climbed all the way up”.

He promised that there would be sound and light as part of the Dream Ma­chine ex­pe­ri­ence, and hinted that there would be more to dis­cover as kids climbed in and up. “We are go­ing to have lit­tle de­tails that are sub­tle but will bring joy and sur­prise.”

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