We were able to head in to DC a few weeks back for a field trip to the Bureau of Printing and Engraving. While it wasn’t my favorite field trip we’ve ever been on- it was an interesting and QUICK informational tour. I think that it would be a perfect first field trip in DC- just to get your kids used to doing more informational tours versus the more “free range” museums.
If you are going alone for a walk-in tour, they happen every 15 minutes from 9am-10:45am. 11am-12:15pm is reserved for large groups/schools, and then from 12:30-2pm there are walk-in tours every 15 minutes. (Please check their website to ensure these times are still current. They are as of publishing, but could change anytime.)
The website tells you that tours last 40 minutes, but I think ours was just about 30 minutes from start to finish. That could be because, unfortunately, one section of the tour was under renovation, so there really wasn’t anything to see and we kind of just breezed through.
So. If you are me, you will try to go into the treasury building because that is where Wayz takes you. Behind these really cool doors are very nice security guards who will take one look at you (as you come in out of breath because you ran from the parking garage) and go “Oh, no, baby- you want to be across the street for the tour- you’re okay, just across the street.” Thanks very nice security guards!
When you get inside there are a few cool exhibits on either side of a long hallway for you to check out as you wait for your tour to begin.
When it’s time for your tour to start, the guide will call you to the back of the hallway where you watch a brief video detailing the role of the Engraving and Printing Bureau and some of the changes that they’ve made to ensure that our money is very secure, such as adding colors and special fibers to the production of our paper money.
After your video, you head back to see the 4 different production areas. There is absolutely no photography allowed in these areas, so I can’t really show you anything, but I will tell you that all three of my kids commented that they felt like we were on a ship- and oddly, I did, too. The walkways are narrow and the ceilings are a little low, so it did feel very like tours of boats that we’ve been on. You would through each section following a guardrail and are able to look through the glass windows down into the area where people are working on different parts of the money production process. We ended our tour in the gift shop (of course) where there are some fun post cards in various giant denominations, shredded money, and even a photo booth where you can put your own face on the bill of your choice. Again, this was a very quick tour, and we were moving basically the entire time, aside from the movie. I think it would be a great “trial” tour for your children if they haven’t been on one before. The tour felt quick and moved along, you would want to be conscious of anyone in your party who can not stand or walk for long periods of time as you are up on your feet for most of the tour.
Have you been to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing? What were your thoughts?