WASHINGTON — The National Children's Museum plans to return to the District of Columbia next year, just two years after moving to the National Harbor development in Prince George's County.
Museum officials said Monday that they want the institution's new home to be near a Metro station and to have plenty of room to expand. The board decided an expansion at National Harbor would be unaffordable, said Ross Hechinger, chairman of the museum's board of directors.
"Obviously we regret to have to do this, but it is the best decision for us at this time," Hechinger told The Washington Post (http://wapo.st/11fPwkN ).
The museum opened at National Harbor in December 2012, featuring characters from "Sesame Street" and giving tourists and locals another reason to visit the growing development along the Potomac River.
Though the museum has seen more than 250,000 visitors since then, museum officials said the waterfront location has too many challenges. It's too far from the Metro and has limited access to public transit, making it difficult to draw a wider number of young visitors, they said. The museum also hasn't been able to find affordable space at the harbor to expand.
The museum originally planned to build a 140,000-square-foot facility at National Harbor with an indoor river and replica of the Oval Office, but its $130 million fundraising campaign was hampered by the recession. Instead, the museum opened a modest 18,000-square-foot space with hopes of growing over time.
"It became difficult to raise funds privately," Hechinger said. "We just said it is not going be feasible to raise that kind of money."
The museum closed its previous location on Capitol Hill in 2004.
Information from: The Washington Post, http://www.washingtonpost.com