Monday, July 11, 2011

National Building Museum

The lovely Colleen and I continue to plug away on the Local See and Do List, but i swear it doesn't get any shorter. Of course, since local encompasses parts of 4 states and 2 cities - one of which is the nation's capitol - there are a lot of things to be seen and to be done.
Our latest foray was to the Nation Building Museum. As i mentioned on the Memorial Day post about the law enforcement memorial, all we knew before we left home was the address and Metro stop. As we were looking at the memorial and taking pictures of lion statues we were trying to figure out what street we were on to know which direction to walk to find the museum.
maybe if we can figure out what this huge building right here is, one of us says to the other,
only to realize that this IS the National Building Museum.
That's convenient.
Built in the 1880s, this was originally the US Pension Bureau Headquarters, which is reflected in the 3ft high frieze circling the outside portraying various scenes of soldiers returning from the Civil War.

100 years later, an act of Congress repurposed it from offices to a museum celebrating the environments we create for ourselves.

When we went, there were 5 exhibitions staged: Cityscapes Revealed highlighted permanent collection pieces; Washington: Symbol and City told the in-depth story of the designing and construction of our nation's capitol, as well as describing some of its neighborhoods; Designing Tomorrow captures the design and impact of the World's Fairs of the 1930s (runs through Sept 5th 2011 if you want to see cool early/mid-century stuff); Walls Speak displays an amazing collection of the Art Deco artist Hildreth Meiere (runs through Nov 27th 2011 and is awesome); and, LEGO Architecture. The first four were free, but there was no photography allowed.
LEGO Architecture: Towering Ambition is a touring exhibition, running through Sept 2012 and was a reasonable $5 buy-up. It features replicas of 15 famous building, rendered in LEGO:

cute Empire State Building in the back

Leenie checks out the Chicago Spire

Falling Water was my favorite

There was also a building area with so many LEGOs it was mind-boggling. You could build anything you wanted, but there was signage about different urban planning schemes so that your building could be designed to suit various purposes.

the stripey one is mine

Once your structure was done, there was a cityscape where it could live. It was neat to see not only what structures others had built, but where people chose to put them in the city.

Even if you don't have time for the exhibits, you have, have, have to at least walk into the Great Hall:
 words don't even begin to capture the beauty
or the vastness of this space. 
Each of the column is humongous and gives the Great Hall a feeling of an open plaza inside of the building.

i'm so tiny in comparison
There were a lot of people hanging out, reading, and eating in this lovely, comfortable place. Also, there is a children/family area right in the Great Room where folks can build their own structures from all sorts of materials.
BTW, if the room looks familiar to you, there have been Presidential Inaugural Balls here since Grover Cleveland.
I recommend a visit and be sure to check out the super fun sculpture on the far-side from the Metro stop:
and maybe even be a part of it!

[note: there has been a pricing change for this museum since i visited it; info can be found here]

1 comment:

Brenda*Nery said...

Thank you for taking me with you through your blog ;)