The Cool Museum


Earlier this month, The Washington Post published a pull-out section listing 91 recommended spots for cooling off amid the summer heat – one for each Metro stop. (Some require a bus ride from the Metro stop. The bus ride itself will probably provide plenty of cooling off, given the way they crank up the air conditioning.)

In all my explorations of the DC area and goal of finding interesting places to visit near every Metro stop, I had not previously considered this particular criterion: places to escape the heat. Maybe it’s because I tend to be cold everywhere, and any air-conditioned room only feels like a welcome escape for about ten minutes.

Tide Pool along the National Zoo's American Trail

Tide Pool along the National Zoo’s American Trail

In addition to the list’s ample assortment of pools, spray parks, and frozen dessert shops, the Post also sends overheated Metro riders into various museums. For some of these, the blurb basically consists of, “It’s indoors! And air-conditioned! And near the Metro! And there is interesting stuff inside!” Similar reasoning is used to recommend that readers go to movie theaters, stores, and (of all the things there are to do in Dupont) a psychic reading.

But there are a few descriptions that highlight aspects that are both particularly cooling, and particular to the site:

  • At the National Building Museum, visitors are encouraged to “frolic at ‘The Beach’ – a 10,000-square-foot ball pit standing in for the ocean.”
  • The National Zoo not only has mist stations, but also allows “wading in American Trail’s tide pool, complete with lapping waves and models of aquatic species.”
  • While chilled air is standard at DC museums in the summer, the article specifically mentions the reason for keeping the Hirshhorn especially cool: “Rest on the plaza by the fountain, or shelter inside, kept at 68 degrees and 50 percent humidity to protect the museum’s collection of contemporary and modern art.”

Also listed were the Naval Heritage Center, Welcome Center at Arlington Cemetery, Marvin Gaye Park, Folger Shakespeare Library, United States Botanic Garden, National Museum of Health and Medicine, Strathmore, NIH Visitor Center and Nobel Laureate Exhibit Hall, Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens, Yards Park, DEA Museum and Visitors Center, Gallery Walk at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Smithsonian Castle, Kingman Island, and Lake Fairfax Park.

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About Laura

Paralegal with Master of Arts in Teaching in Museum Education, frequent museum visitor, based in Washington, DC. I care about what museums can do, both in terms of public offerings and internal practices, to make the world a better place. I blog about museum education ("informed"), the social work of museums ("humane"), and visitor experience ("citizenry").
This entry was posted in Articles and Books, Lists of Museums, National Zoological Park and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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