When I think of DAR, Constitution Hall comes to mind as that’s the only part of the building I have been to — until now. The DAR Museum hosts fantastic family programs throughout the year. I took my daughter to Victorian Valentines which was part of Fun Family Saturdays! at DAR.
The activity took place in the DAR Museum Gallery which had us walking through the gift shop. The museum staff was so wonderful and patient with the children. Two tables were set up with tons of supplies to create Valentine crafts. Heart stencils, Victorian themed stickers, stencils and tissue paper, colored sequins, ribbon and markers allowed children to create their very special project. There were three other families present when we came which was halfway through the two hour session. The nice part was there was no pressure to rush through the activity and leave. Kids were allowed to take their time adding detail to their creation and parents could even make a card too.
My daughter told me she was making her valentine for her grandmother. The curator was so impressed that she took a photo of my daughter and her creation.
We browsed through the current exhibit Fashioning the New Woman which can be seen until August 31, 2013. My five year old had little interest in this, but older girls would enjoy seeing how fashion changed at the turn of the 20th century. From day to evening dresses to World War I Red Cross attire and bathing suits, it’s amazing how women wore such clothing, often heavy and constraining. Also on view is a look at cosmetics, a collection of parasols and fans, and ladies accessories. Just past the current exhibit are a few standout pieces like an alphabet quilt from 1915, a life mask of George Washington and a storage jar by David Drake, the first African-American potter to sign his pottery.
Fun Family Saturdays! are held October through May from 10:30am to 12:30pm. Geared for ages 5 and older, the events are free, however supplies and space are limited. We registered in advance by e-mailing [email protected], but drop-ins are welcome. The next event, Dressing the New Woman, will take place on March 16, 2013. Ages 7 and older will enjoy dressing paper dolls.
Stick around because on select Saturdays from 1:30 to 2:30pm, children ages 5 to 8 can embark on an interactive tour experiencing the life of an early-American child. The next Colonial Adventure will be held on April 20 and May 18. Again, we recommend that you register in advance to guarantee a spot.
But wait, there’s more! On the far side of the building on the third floor, hidden among state period rooms, is the Touch of Independence Education Center. Young boys and girls will delight in re-enacting the life of a child growing up in early America. We spent nearly an hour here and I had to pry my daughter away because she was having so much fun. Dressed in a bonnet and apron she churned butter, played games like trundle hoop and Cat’s Cradle, wrote using a feather, and made new friends at a tea party. Learn about life in the late 19th and early 20th century by uncovering the clothing and occupation discovery cubbies. Across from the education center was the New Hampshire period room illustrating an attic playroom. Filled with children’s rocking toys, doll collection, and more, my child was bummed that she couldn’t physically touch the items. Along the corridor are a few doll houses to admire, but again, not available to touch. Before you leave the Touch of Independence Education Center, pick up an “activity packet.”
If I haven’t convinced you what a great family find that is the DAR Museum, I must have done something wrong. We are definitely going to return for Fun Family Saturdays! and the education center, but also to check out Colonial Adventure.
If I had more time, I would have loved to have lingered around the museum, especially the gift shop stocked with replica folk toys. Speaking of time, we drove and had no issue finding parking. The downside was we only had two hours on the meter. If you choose to take the subway, it’s less than a 15 minute walk from the Farragut West metro stop.
Photo by Kathleen Molloy.