National Children’s Museum locating at National Harbor


“Extravalooza” is coming to National Harbor.

Officials of the acclaimed National Children’s Museum, which hosted teen queen Hilary Duff at its annual “extravalooza” fundraiser last year, said Friday it plans to locate its new 140,000 square foot facility at National Harborthe $2 billion, 300-acre, mixed-use waterfront development in PG County along the Potomac River.

The Capital Childrens Museum closed its doors on Third Street in the District in 2004, but now plans to open its doors in 2012, one mile from Alexandria.

The museum is projected to attract 500,000 visitors in its first year of operation, 80 percent of whom will be from the Washington area. Tourists are expected to make up the remaining 20 percent. The market for such an attraction is expansive, officials say. Nearly one million children live in the national capital area, and each year 5.5 million visitors pour into the region with children. 

“We are thrilled with the many new opportunities National Harbor provides and are excited to have found such a perfect site, said Kathy Dwyer Southern, President and CEO of the museum. Its an ideal
location for the new Museum and will provide easy access for the one million families living in the Washington region and the millions of visitors who tour the area each year.

Planning for the National Children’s Museum began in 1999, when the museum’s Board of Trustees identified the need for a new national institution for children in the Washington region. Congress then designated CCM as the National Children’s Museum in 2003.
The new complex will require lots of money to develop. The museum’s board of trustees will continue its $130 million national capital campaign to build the new institution, Southern said. To date, officials of the Museum say they have met all of their initial private fundraising goals.

Designed by international architect Cesar Pelli (of Pelli Clark Pelli), the museum will join with National Harbor to “transform the banks of the Potomac into a new gateway to the Washington region for kids and families,” Southern said.

Serving as an anchor attraction for kids and families at National Harbor, the National Childrens Museum will be housed in a new state of the art facility that will deliver “a dynamic, interactive learning environment,” she added.

The mission of the National Childrens Museum is to inspire children to care about and improve the world, so Southern said their new location at National Harbor will “extend the visitors experience outdoors and take advantage of abundant natural resources to deepen and enrich exhibit and program offerings.”

S. Ross Hechinger, chair of the museum’s Board of Directors, called the new site a “tremendous development for the MuseumNational Harbor is a natural fit for us…With the available natural resources, public spaces, complimentary attractions, and ample parking, it is the perfect location to build a world-class museum for the children and families here.

Developed by the Fairfax-based Peterson Companies, National Harbor will include one of the largest hotel and convention centers on the Eastern seaboard, thousands of residential units, outdoor art and program spaces, as well as an active marina.

We’re thrilled to welcome the National Childrens Museum to National Harbor, said Milt Peterson, the founder and chairman of The Peterson Companies. National Harbor and the National Childrens Museum share a commitment to engaging and delighting children and families through culture and the arts. This natural alliance will serve to create a rich and dynamic experience for
the millions of children we look forward to hosting in the years to come.

Originally slated to be built as part of a development at LEnfant Plaza in the District, the museum began looking for an alternative site when the developers plans and timeline changed significantly enough to impact the museums design and project schedule.

The Museum expects its core visitors will be families from the District, Northern Virginia, and Maryland.

We are so proud of our 30-year history of service to the kids of the Washington region and we are excited to build on this track record in the years ahead, Southern said.

She added that the Potomac River and woodland park at National Harbor, combined with all of the regions cultural institutions, will provide “tremendous program opportunities” that will  provide kids and families with a truly authentic, hands-on experience.

More information about the National Childrens Museum can be found at 

A New Site for the National Children’s Museum

  • The National Children’s Museum will be housed in a new 140,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility. The complex will be designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects, the world-renowned architectural practice.
  • The Capital Children’s Museum closed its doors in in 2004. The new National Children’s Museum plans to open its doors in 2012. 
  • Nearly one million children live in the national capital area, which each year attracts five and a half million visitors with children. 
  • The National Children’s Museum is projected to attract 500,000 visitors in its first year of operation, 80 percent of whom will be from the Washington area. Tourists are expected to make up the remaining 20 percent. 
  • The National Children’s Museum has launched a $130 million national fundraising campaign.