National Building Museum

Photo by Kevin Allen in the National Building Museum’s exhibition PLAY WORK BUILD.

The mission of the National Building Museum is to inspire curiosity in the world we design and build. Through exhibitions and programs, the National Building Museum engages all ages in experiencing stories about the built world and its power to shape our lives, communities, and futures. The Museum historic home was built between 1882 and 1887 for three distinct purposes: to house the headquarters of the United States Pension Bureau, to provide a suitably grand space for Washington’s social and political functions, and to commemorate the service of Union soldiers in the Civil War. In the 1960s, the government considered demolishing the building but after pressure from preservationists, commissioned architect Chloethiel Woodard Smith to explore other uses. Smith proposed the building be converted to a museum of the building arts. Congress passed a resolution in 1978 calling for the preservation of the building as a national treasure; a 1980 Act of Congress mandated the creation of a private, nonprofit educational institution in the building; the Museum opened to the public in 1985 and was officially named the National Building Museum in 1997.

National Building Museum
401 F St. NW
Washington DC 20001
United States