Despite being in the heart of DC, the National Building Museum has the feeling of being off the beaten path. If you are looking for a low-key place to spend an afternoon, and appreciate architecture and design, you will enjoy this museum.
When I entered the building, I was greeted by the impressive Great Hall and beautiful columns. The building was built in the late 1800s and was originally designed to house the Pension Bureau and to provide a space for social and political events. The building is still used today as an event space, and I hope I get the chance to attend a formal reception or concert there some day.
Visitors can enjoy the Great Hall, gift shop and cafe free of charge, and exhibition tickets are a nominal fee. The museum runs several exhibitions at a time. My favorites were HOT TO COLD: an odyssey of architectural adaptation and Investigating Where We Live: D.C. Now & Next.
The gift shop is one of the best in DC, and has a great selection of art and architecture books and quirky kitchen items. I’m pretty sure I spent over an hour just looking at all the cool gift shop merchandise.
I can’t wait to return to the museum in a few weeks to spend the day at the BEACH.