Shout Out: National Building Museum

14 Mar

Completed in 1887. They just don't make buidlings like they used to.

When I talk about the National Building Museum, I’m always surprised by how many DC area residents either don’t know that it exists or haven’t been. I think that’s such a shame because it’s one of my favorite museums. I’m not an architecture buff or anything, but the exhibits they come up with are always so well done and often surprisingly interesting. For example, I loved the exhibit on parking garages, which I would not have expected.

Though not on the National Mall, the Building Museum is really convenient—about a block from the Verizon Center and literally across the street from the Judiciary Square Metro Station (Red Line). Parking on the weekends can be tough, but it’s doable if you’re willing to drive around awhile and park several blocks away.

Even if there weren’t any exhibits, the museum’s building is, fittingly, interesting enough to warrant a visit. Its Corinthian columns (among the largest indoor columns in the world), indoor fountain and decorative work are truly stunning. Originally built for the Pension Bureau, the building has served a variety of purposes—even hosting several Presidential Inaugural Balls—before becoming a museum. My boyfriend thinks it would make a great apartment building, but I’m not sure why he’s advocating that idea since there’s no way we’d be able to afford living there if it was.

One of my favorite things about the museum is that, even on weekends, it’s not filled with tourists. It’s clear that a large portion of visitors are local. And the museum is particularly popular with parents who have young kids because there are lots for them to do and a big open space for them to run around in.

The museum’s free though occasionally certain exhibits have a small entrance free. Currently, for example, you can pay $5 to see the LEGO Architecture exhibit.  I also highly recommend the free tours that docents lead.  This past weekend I took the Washington: Symbol and City tour which, as an area resident, I found particularly interesting. Yay knowledge!

One Response to “Shout Out: National Building Museum”

  1. Barb Nelson March 15, 2011 at 12:22 am #

    I wanna go.

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