As one of the DC museums with an admission fee, I'd recommend visiting only when you have several hours to spend so that you get your money's worth. There is plenty of material to keep you busy. My husband and I visited all of the galleries but didn't get to read everything, and our visit took two hours. If your schedule is predictable, tickets are available for advance purchase online and you can save some money. (The online tickets are specific to date and time.) We chose the general admission option instead of the audio tour.
The galleries on the top floor are a little tight on space during peak times, but the crowd seems to thin out as you descend to the lower floors, so just be patient if you feel crowded upstairs. The lower floors are cooler, too. There are lots of opportunities for interaction and photo-ops (non-flash photography is allowed), and you can also find stations throughout the museum to keep young kids interested, although the majority of the material is PG/PG-13.
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