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Washington's 'Indoor Beach' Prepares to Close

Visitors gather at the National Building Museum exhibit, "The Beach," in Washington, D.C. (W. Wisniewski/VOA)

One of Washington, D.C.'s most popular summer playgrounds — the National Building Museum's "Indoor Beach" — is closing this week after a two-month run that saw tens of thousands of people play in a giant pit packed with about three quarters of a million translucent plastic balls.

The so-called indoor ocean drew long lines of tourists and others since opening July 4. It has since hosted parties, countless family outings and at least one wedding. On a recent visit, weary visitors sipped drinks from a nearby snack bar or relaxed in white beach chairs along the "shoreline" of the 930 square meter ocean as wide-eyed children frolicked nearby.

The exhibit was the brainchild of "Snarkitecture," a New York-based arts collaboration specializing in public displays that fall somewhere between architecture and art.

A city arts collective, the Dupont Underground, plans to relocate the exhibit elsewhere in the U.S. capital. It put out a call for volunteers to package the balls, load them onto trucks and off-load them in an underground art space several kilometers from the museum.

The collective set up a website where volunteers could reserve free tickets that assign them to work shifts. Organizers earlier this month told a local radio station that the final event, pouring the balls into the new space, has already sold out. Several work shifts were also reported filled as well.

Just days before pulling the plug on the giant "ocean," an exhibit coordinator told The Washington Post that workers expect to find hundreds of lost cell phones, eyeglasses, shoes and other personal belongings, as Washington's summer tourist season draws to a close and the museum site is cleared.