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As any culture-hungry local or sore-footed tourist can attest, the nation’s capital is a city of museums. Later this month, another will be added to the list — the City Museum of Washington, D.C. Opening to the public on May 16, the 60,000-square-foot museum is housed in the impressively refurbished Carnegie Library between Seventh and Ninth streets, N.W., on Mount Vernon Square, just south of the new Convention Center. Under the operation of the Historical Society of Washington, D.C., the City Museum will tell the story of the capital city and its people through permanent and changing exhibits, a multimedia show, educational programs, and community events. In what the museum bills as its decentralized “gateway” approach to presenting information, it will encourage its visitors to extend their city experience by exploring the varied neighborhoods of the District. But inside the turn-of-the-century Beaux Arts edifice, museum-goers will find much to educate and to entertain them. The natural first stop for visitors will be the overview exhibit in the first floor’s main gallery. It is dominated by a large satellite image floor map of the District. More than 200 years of D.C. history are illustrated on the four façades that surround the map and serve as room dividers, partitioning off floor space for a number of rotating exhibits. The next likely destination will be the two community galleries. Museum officials have identified more than 125 D.C. neighborhoods and hope eventually to showcase each of them in changing exhibits in these halls. The opening exhibits will feature the Mount Vernon Square and Chinatown neighborhoods. Perhaps what promises to be the museum’s most distinctive attraction is its 22-minute multimedia show. Presented in the first floor’s 148-seat theater, it combines live action and a movie made with D.C.-based actors and hologramlike animation to explore the District’s federal-local dichotomy. The focal point of the museum’s second floor will be its spacious collections gallery, which will be home to a series of changing exhibits featuring photos, prints, and paintings of the District. The first show will feature early maps and prints of the city on loan from D.C. collector Albert Small. Also on the second floor is the changing exhibit gallery, which will feature a new display about every year. The inaugural show will pay homage to the District’s sports scene. The Historical Society’s reading room and library will also occupy space on the second floor. The ground floor will boast a working archeology laboratory and a classroom wing with four workshop spaces for school programs, lectures, and community gatherings. Unlike most of the city’s other museums, admission will be charged at the City Museum. A combination ticket, which allows access to the exhibits and the multimedia show, costs $8 for adults, $6 for students and seniors. If you join the museum — membership levels range from $25 to $5,000 — ticket prices are considerably reduced.

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