The National Building Museum is one of the rare museums in DC that’s not a part of the Smithsonian. But, that’s not the only thing that makes this museum different.
First, their gift shop is excellent. I go there frequently for all types of occasions to buy presents. And in case you’re wondering, not everything in the shop is DC-themed. More importantly, most things in the store are very reasonably priced. Most other museum gift shops are full of fairly expensive items.
The second thing that makes the National Building Museum different happens every Saturday morning. The first floor of the museum, which is a big, open, carpeted room seems to always be packed with small children running around and enjoying the space. While the museum does have kid-friendly exhibits, this morning take-over of the open area on the first floor is an organic, unofficial activity. So if you have small children, you may want to consider going at that time.
The National Building Museum does have some of the traditional things you expect from such a place. They offer exhibits for adults and kids, tours, and have a small cafe.
Lastly, it’s free to get in! That said, you will have to pay if you want to buy something from the gift shop or get tickets to the exhibits or tours.