Learn about culture, history, people and machines at fascinating museums across America.
A handful of new and expanding museums provide engaging and enriching experiences for families. Here are five to consider:
• American Writers Museum, Chicago: Debuting in May, this new entry into the museum world, and the first of its kind in the U.S., will shine a light on American writers and their influence on our history, culture and daily existence. Learn about the professional practices and personal lives of famous scribes including Mark Twain, Dr. Seuss and John Steinbeck. Exhibits tagged “The Mind of a Writer,” “A Writer’s Room” and “Word Play” will decode the writing life and spur the creativity of budding wordsmiths through games and a menu of immersive opportunities. Also expect permanent exhibits, a children’s gallery, films, talks and readings for every age group. More info:americanwritersmuseum.org.
• Museums for gear heads: Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Bowling Green, Kentucky: At the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee, kids can immerse themselves in the history, engineering and future of these iconic bikes. Check out the Harley’s “family tree” to learn about the evolution of the engine and design your own dream ride at the “Build-a-Bike” station. Rummage through Discovery Drawers to marvel at colorful vintage toys and collectibles. The competitive set in your clan will want to stop by the Hill Climber Interactive Display to see how racers manage top speeds without brakes. Youngsters will enjoy dressing in Harley gear, revving engines and taking a virtual ride on the open road. Farther south, in Bowling Green, families can visit the National Corvette Museum to see how the sleek cars are crafted and engage in hands-on activities in the Kids Zone. Snap a family photo as you try one on for size in the lobby. More info:harley-davidson.com and corvettemuseum.org.
• The National WWII Museum, New Orleans: Through family workshops where your clan can learn the secrets of military-code cracking, changing exhibits and multimedia programs, this expansive museum strives to educate visitors about the many facets of America’s experience in World War II. Spend time learning through scavenger hunts, games and the chance to explore the inside of a Sherman tank during the museum’s popular Family Overnight experience. The recently completed Founders Plaza offers a peaceful and shaded setting to honor those who have served. More info:nationalww2museum.org.
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• Museum of the American Revolution, Philadelphia: If you needed just one more history-based nudge to plan a trip to Philadelphia, a new museum will open in April just steps from Independence Hall, Carpenter’s Hall and Franklin Court. Permanent and special exhibitions, theater and diverse programming will help visitors explore the tumultuous era of the American Revolution. Supported by an extensive collection of artifacts, artwork and manuscripts, the museum hopes to provide a meaningful and contextual portal to the nation’s many Revolutionary sites. More info:amrevmuseum.org.
• National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington, D.C.: Opening last year, this remarkable museum is devoted to sharing the story of black American life, history and culture. Through more than 37,000 artifacts, including Nat Turner’s Bible and Carlotta Walls’ “store-bought dress” amid powerful narratives, visitors learn about the role of creativity, community and resilience in creating change and overcoming racial oppression. In the exhibit “Making a Way Out of No Way,” themed stories illuminate how blacks crafted possibilities in a world that often denied opportunity. The museum is committed to a robust schedule of programs for children and families. Currently, timed passes are required for admission. Check the website for details regarding long-term and same-day availability. More info: nmaahc.si.edu.