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National Building Museum Reopening April 9th after a 16-month closure


“The Great Hall of the National Building Museum. Photo by Kevin Allen.”

From a press release:

“On Friday, April 9, 2021, the National Building Museum will reopen after a 16-month closure due to restoration work and the COVID-19 pandemic. In its 41st year as the only U.S. cultural institution dedicated to the built environment, the Museum will once again welcome everyone to experience stories about the structures, interiors, and landscapes that we design and build. New offerings include an exhibition about a nonprofit architecture firm leading the way in designs for health, well-being, and justice; a memorial dedicated to victims of gun violence; the work of an architectural photography master; and a Visitor Center that introduces the public to the institution and its mission.

The Museum’s exhibitions and the Museum Shop will be open from 11 am to 4 pm, Fridays through Sundays.

Masks are required for all visitors at all times, and the Museum is following all D.C. government COVID guidelines regarding visitor capacity. Over the past year, the Museum has moved its public programs to an online format, and this will continue over the coming months, until the city’s rules on the size of indoor gatherings allow for in-person events.

The Museum has announced the appointment of Aileen Fuchs as its new President and Executive Director. Currently the President and CEO of the Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden, on Staten Island, New York, she will join the institution on May 5. Since the retirement of former Executive Director Chase Rynd, Hon. ASLA, in June 2020, the Museum has been led by Interim Executive Director Brent Glass.

“The National Building Museum is reopening with new leadership and an impressive lineup of exhibitions,” said Glass. “We are delighted that the public can return to our home in the historic Pension Building and again experience the extraordinary Great Hall, one of Washington’s most important interior spaces.”

Museum Exhibitions

In addition to the popular and ongoing exhibitions House & Home and Animals, Collected, the Museum will offer three new opportunities for visitors to discover timely, important, and beautiful aspects of the built environment.

Justice is Beauty: The Work of MASS Design Group showcases a nonprofit architecture firm whose work focuses on public health, personal well-being, and human dignity. Over its first decade, MASS Design Group has paved the way in designing health structures that manage disease outbreaks such as tuberculosis, cholera, and Ebola. Other innovative projects include schools, prison design alternatives, food-conservation labs, urban space designs, and memorials to commemorate civil injustices. On display through September 2022.

Shown in conjunction with Justice is Beauty, the Gun Violence Memorial Project is an architectural space of memory and healing: four glass-brick houses that are filled with remembrance objects collected from immediate families whose loved ones were killed by gun violence. This tribute to the thousands of lives taken by gun violence in the U.S. each year was designed by MASS Design Group and conceptual artist Hank Willis Thomas, and developed in partnership with the gun violence prevention organizations Purpose Over Pain and Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund. On display through September 2022. This exhibition is free for all visitors–no ticket purchase required.

Alan Karchmer: The Architects’ Photographer examines the work of a prominent photographer as well as the practice of architectural photography writ large. On display are Karchmer’s iconic portraits of works by some of the world’s most influential designers and firms, as well as personal images and artifacts that shed light on the photographer’s work. Karchmer has bequeathed his professional archives to the Museum’s permanent collection. On display through June 2022.

Visitor Center

To provide visitors with a welcoming and engaging introduction to the Museum, its mission, and the breadth of its subject matter, a three-room Visitor Center is now located in ground-floor galleries, across the Great Hall from the Museum Shop. The entry room features a desk for purchasing exhibition tickets, information about upcoming Museum programs, and a wall-sized installation of objects from the permanent collection. The second and third galleries provide an orientation and introduction to the complexities and impact of the built environment through displays, videos, and interactive elements, as well as examples of “embodied architecture,” helping people understand how designers make choices for structures, spaces, and landscapes.

Visitors may purchase tickets in advance at go.nbm.org/tickets, or at the Visitor Center upon arrival. Visits to the Museum Shop and the Gun Violence Memorial Project do not require a ticket purchase.

Access to the Museum is through the building’s 5th Street and G Street entrances; the F Street doorway remains locked, as a temporary COVID testing site fills that stretch of the street. Metro’s Judiciary Square F Street access point is open; visitors arriving there will have to enter the Museum by 5th Street. Alternatively, visitors may travel to the Gallery Place-Chinatown station and walk two blocks to the Museum.”

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