After 16 Months Closed, The National Building Museum Will Reopen April 9
(As Published on dcist, photo courtesy of NBM)
It’s been 16 months since visitors last walked through the Great Hall of the Building Museum, but the building dedicated to buildings will reopen on April 9. Renovations closed the museum in December 2019 for what was supposed to be just three months dark. As luck would have it, the museum was set to reopen last March 13, just as the pandemic ramped up.
But after that false start, the museum will now open with a new foundation replacing the original concrete floor, a new classroom on the ground floor, and new exhibition spaces on the second floor, among other layout changes. A new three-room visitor center will feature a wall-sized installation of objects from the permanent collection.
Three new exhibits are also awaiting visitors. Justice is Beauty: The Work of MASS Design Group highlights a nonprofit architecture firm that focuses on public health, personal well-being, and human dignity. It is on display through September 2022.
The Gun Violence Memorial Project is an architectural space for memory and healing, the museum said in a release. It consists of four glass houses filled with objects belonging to victims of gun violence in the U.S. MASS Design Group and conceptual artist Hank Willis Thomas are behind the project, developed in partnership with the gun violence prevention organizations Purpose Over Pain and Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund. It will be on display through September 2022 and is available to view without purchasing a museum ticket.
Alan Karchmer: The Architects’ Photographer focuses on the work of the prominent architectural photographer and his 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. His photos will be on display through June 2022.
The exhibitions House & Home and Animals and Collected are also still on view. The museum will also continue its online public programming over the coming months until the District’s restrictions on indoor gathering size allow for in-person events.
The museum and shop will be open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Fridays through Sundays. Masks are required at all times, and the museum is following all D.C. government COVID guidelines regarding visitor capacity. Admission is split between two-time blocks during those hours, according to the ticketing page. The only entrance that will be open is the 5th Street entrance.
The National Building Museum has had a tumultuous year, laying off eight percent of its staff in February 2020. At the time, then-executive director Chase Rynd told DCist that the renovation and broader financial challenges had forced the cuts. As many museums struggled to stay afloat during the pandemic’s early months, NBM went on to permanently cut two-thirds of its staff. Aileen Fuchs, formerly of Staten Island’s Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden, took over as president and executive director of NBM earlier this month.