National Building Museum Washington Reviews
Great Spaces at the National Building Musuem Aug 20, 2011
The National Building Museum is an exhibit of architecture and structural engineering and design. It may sound technical, but it is a wonderful series of ongoing exhibits celebrating the spaces we see and live and work in.
The museum is, first, in one of Washington, DC's, most impressive exterior and interior spaces, the Pension Building of 1887. The Italianate style Pension Building, occupying a full city block, was built to house the Pension Bureau. Following the Civil War, the work of the Pension Bureau had increased enormously, requiring a dedicated office building for its large workforce. It was designed by Montgomery Meigs, a former Union General and and engineer who built the of Washington Aqueduct to bring water to the growing capital. Meigs innovations included a large central atrium where clerks sat, galleries for offices, and an air circulation system that refreshed the inside air every two minutes. And so, the museum building itself is also its greatest exhibit.
Today, the huge atrium and galleries are open to visitors at no charge. There is a charge to visit the permanent and temporary or traveling exhibits. (Exhibits are installed in former office space around the galleries.) When Susan and I visited, we saw three exhibits "Washington: Symbol and City" about the architecture of Washington, DC, "Designing Tomorrow: America’s World’s Fairs of the 1930s" and "LEGO Architecture: Towering Ambition".
I really enjoyed the exhibit on the World's Fairs and their Art Deco design and content espousing the future. They were set up very much like theme parks of today. (Walt Disney had visited some of these fairs and one can see how their design inspired features of Disneyland and Epcot.)
The LEGO exhibit featured models of famous buildings built from LEGO bricks. They were very well done!
There is a discover center for children where they can build and design with large blocks and soft blocks. Children certainly enjoy the huge interior space!
Entry to the building and the Great Hall is free, but entry to the exhibits is $8 for all of them. Photography is permitted in some of the exhibits but not in others. There are also a large gift shop and a small cafe.
Explore this space!
Part of the Inside Washington, DC travel blog
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