We headed to The BEACH, The Building Museum’s latest art installation at 1:00 on the Monday after opening weekend. The Snarkitecture piece, basically consisting of a massive ball pit filling the Great Hall, runs until September. It sounded so awesome that I felt like it couldn’t possibly be, and prepared myself for disappointment. In an effort to assuage this impending letdown, on the Metro ride there I
mentally verbally prepared for all of the things that could go wrong and planned alternative activities. It could be sold out, it could be overrun by children, it could be stupid, it could be temporarily closed, etc. I figured instead we would shop at Loft then go eat at Zaytinya.
Everyone I’ve talked to since going seems to have a similar reaction of, “Really? It’s real?” And I can now confirm that yes, it is real, and yes, it is everything and all the things you hope it will be.
So, yes, I recommend checking this out, but there are mistakes—like wearing a skirt—that can potentially make for a bad experience. How to best prepare for your trip? I have some tips:
Wear pants or shorts.
In the middle of sundress season, some ladies were feeling the struggle as they tried to “swim” through the exhibit without flashing everyone. This one will really rain on your parade.
Bring as few items as possible, and put them in a bag that is securely fastened.
There are cubbies where you can put things like shoes, but mostly you’ll want to keep your stuff with you. And much like the real ocean, if you loose something in this thing, it is LOST. The ideal bag is a cross body bag that zips closed. That way your belongings are with you and your hands are free. I know the lens cap is vulnerable on my DSLR, so I made sure to remove it and zip it in my bag. It was a little risky to bring my camera, but wore the strap across like my bag so I was ok.
Don’t be hungry.
Also, like the real ocean, moving around the “ocean” requires some effort, and you need calories to burn. Do not be running on empty. There is a snack bar with nice snacks from Union Kitchen, but it really is just snacks, not a substitute for breakfast! You’ll still work up an appetite for happy hour afterwards nearby at Zengo or Oyamel.
Check out the rest of the museum.
The ticket is a ticket for the whole museum. While the other exhibits are perhaps unfairly dwarfed by The BEACH, take a little break and walk around. There’s an interesting exhibit going on that talks about the restoration of the Washington Monument and the National Cathedral following the earthquake.
Go early or late.
Crowds seemed to pick up while we were there, so I imagine around opening time would be a good time to go. The museum is open from 10AM-5PM. Or, if you’re an adult with no children, try a Wednesday night; the exhibit will be open from 5-9PM and will feature cocktails, music, and other events. I suspect this will be pretty crowded, but being a more adult crowd it could be fun.
Bring a prop if you’re into photos.
If part of your objective is to take fun photos, bring a prop. Check out the hashtag for the exhibit, #TheBeachDC on Instagram for some ideas. Someone brought a shark fin that made for a pretty cute photo.
Bring a student ID if you have one.
Tickets are $16, but a student ID makes it $13. I won’t tell anyone if you aren’t actually a student.
Finally, as the “Pool Rules” suggest, have a ball!