Choose Your Adventure: Sleepover at the Smithsonians

Have a Real 'Night at the Museum' Experience

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A child learns about dinosaur fossils at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.

Does Henry, the elephant in the foyer of the National Museum of Natural History, come alive when the museum is closed for the night? You can find out!

Smithsonian Associates presents real Night at the Museum experiences for children in the National Museum of Natural History, the National Museum of American History, the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va., and the National Portrait Gallery. Sleepovers will be held from May through August beginning at 7 p.m. and ending at 8:45 a.m. the next morning.

Children and their chaperones can choose their adventure, whether it is sleeping beneath a 50-foot whale, spending the night at the home of the Star-Spangled Banner, near the portraits of presidents and visionaries or among thousands of aviation and space artifacts, including a faster-than-sound SST Concorde and the space shuttle Discovery. Guests experience the museums in a whole new way during a night of fun that features demonstrations, games, crafts and more.

National Museum of Natural History Sleepovers

Sleepover guests will join a small group of fellow adventurers and wander into the newly opened Fossil Hall, where dinosaurs cast giant shadows; explore the ocean’s aquatic wonders; walk softly pass mysterious mammals—did that one blink? Guests enjoy hands-on crafts, projects and games. Then as the lights dim, they roll their sleeping bag out and dream away, knowing that Phoenix the whale is keeping watch throughout their night in the museum. Sleepovers at Natural History will be held June 21, June 28, July 19, July 26, Aug. 2 and Aug. 9.

National Museum of American History Sleepovers

Participants will solve a mystery of historic proportions during an interactive exploration of exhibit halls. When the devious diva Miss Rose steals six valuable objects from the museum, kids must discover what is missing before the evening’s end. Using their detective skills, they will collect clues to guide them to the crime scene. Along the way, they will take part in games, experiments and craft projects—and even become a presidential candidate. Sleepovers at American History will be held May 24, June 15 and July 5.

National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar Hazy Center Sleepovers

Kids and their chaperones will explore the whole world of flight, from its pioneering days through the era of commercial aviation to the excitement of today’s space program. After they grab a flight checklist, they will take off for a night that includes plenty of games, art activities and close-up looks at some of the most historic and fascinating aircraft ever to take to the skies. Udvar-Hazy Center staff will be on hand to offer information and insights about the aviation treasures on view. Sleepovers at the Udvar-Hazy Center will be held May 18, July 13 and Aug. 17.

National Portrait Gallery

Sleepover participants will discover the stories of the poets and presidents, visionaries and villains, actors and activists whose portraits cover the museum’s walls. Inspired by a variety of visual art mediums, games and an immersive guided journey through the museum, sleepover guests create their own portfolios and display their work in a one-night-only gallery exhibition. A sleepover at the National Portrait Gallery will be held Aug. 23.

Children ages 8 to 14 may participate in sleepovers at American History, Natural History and the Udvar-Hazy Center. Children ages 10 to 14 may participate in sleepovers at the National Portrait Gallery. There must be at least one adult for every three children in any group that registers. Chaperones must be 21 years or older. No adults without children. All participants must pre-register by calling (202) 633-3030 or by visiting the Smithsonian Associates box office located in the S. Dillon Ripley Center at 1100 Jefferson Dr. SW, Suite 3077.

Ticket prices are $135 for general admission and $125 for Smithsonian Associate members. The price includes exclusive access and activities in the museum, an evening snack, interactive exploration, arts and crafts activities and a light breakfast. T-shirts are available for purchase while at the sleepover. Reduced rates are available for groups of 20 people or more and for military families. For more information and a schedule of events, visit www.smithsoniansleepovers.org.