imagiNATIONS Activity Center

Open every day, the interactive, family-friendly imagiNATIONS Activity Center provides visitors of all ages with a multitude of unique learning experiences. Native peoples have always used the natural environments around them to meet their needs, and today many of their innovations and inventions are part of daily life for millions worldwide. Visitors to the center can explore some of these ingenious adaptations through a variety of hands-on activities: Weave a giant basket to learn about the various styles of basketry. Explore different modes of transportation like snowshoes and skateboards. Sit inside a full-sized tipi and learn about the buffalo. And stamp your imagiNATIONS passport with real tribal seals as you journey through the center. Even the homes where Native people lived show how they adapted to their environments! Visitors can find out how as they wander through an Amazonian stilt house, see what makes a Pueblo adobe house special, or learn how a Comanche tipi is built.

Visitors can also learn about Ross and Cascade, Native kids who wear various styles of clothes for the different modern and traditional roles they play. Additionally, the activity center offers stories about Native cultures or by Native authors, available for reading in the center’s story room. The craft room offers visitors the opportunity to create art projects and take them home. Our newest activities include a kayak balancing game and our Native Beats Music Room, where kids can explore music through Native percussion instruments. Don’t forget to test your knowledge of Native history, culture, and customs by participating in a competitive quiz show!

We invite you to come and explore! The center always has something new, hosting a regular schedule of storytellers, artists, and other unique performers and activities. Please check the museum’s online calendar for details, or stay current with the latest events on the NMAI blog. Knowledgeable museum staff will be available to help answer questions, conduct special programs, and provide additional resources.

Group Visits

Groups are required to schedule entry time to the ImagiNATIONS Activity Center. Groups may only register for Tuesday, Thursday, or Friday, in 30-minute increments (i.e., 10–10:30 AM; 10:30–11 AM, etc.). Groups must be pre-K to 6th grade only, and are limited to 30 students per hour, with a requirement of one chaperone for every five students. Registration requests must be made at least 48 hours in advance. To reserve a group entry time, contact Group Reservations at 202-633-6644. Please remember to bring your confirmation letter on the day of your visit.

imagiNATIONS Activity Center
Phone: 202-633-6644; 888-618-0572
TTY (non-voice): 202-633-6751
Email: NMAI-ActivityCenter@si.edu

The imagiNATIONS Activity Center is open Monday 10 AM–1 PM; Tuesday through Sunday 10 AM–5 PM; closed December 25.

The imagiNATIONS Activity Center, Third Level, Washington, D.C.

Rules of Play

  • ENTER ONLY with an adult.
  • ALWAYS USE WALKING FEET in the activity center.
  • NO CLIMBING on the houses and activity center furniture.
  • USE HELPING HANDS to put things back where they belong.
  • SHARE AND TAKE TURNS so that everyone has a chance to try everything.
  • TREAT EVERYONE WITH RESPECT. Please keep your hands and feet to yourself.
  • STAY WITH YOUR CHILD OR ADULT while in the activity center.
  • GET INVOLVED WITH LEARNING TOGETHER by trying the activities, asking questions, and sharing information with each other.
  • NO FOOD OR DRINKS are allowed in the activity center. Please eat all food items in either the Mitsitam Cafe (First Level) or outside the museum.
Please supervise your child’s play. Staff reserves the right to correct inappropriate behavior. Visitors or groups who do not follow the rules will be asked to leave.
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