2 Hours of Must-Dos inside the Majestic National Building Museum

Sneak a peek inside the Great Hall, immerse yourself in the interactive exhibits and grab a keepsake from one of the best museum shops in the city.

Stop One

Experience the Great Hall of the National Building Museum

401 F Street NW The National Building Museum is the nation’s premier destination for exploring architecture, engineering, and design. The building, constructed in the 1880s, was formerly home to the Pension Office that paid out pensions to Civil War veterans, as well as a site for grand DC events like inaugural balls. The interior columns are the largest in the world. Look out for the presidential seal in the floor and the busts in the roof.


Stop Two

Visit House & Home

Second Floor Galleries Visit the flagship exhibition about what it means to be at home in America. Learn about house construction over time with the “please-touch” walls made out of different materials, from adobe bricks to Structural Insulated Panel systems. Intricate scale models present iconic residential architecture, including Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater and the Hancock Center in Chicago. Six films featuring contemporary and historical images that trace the history of homemaking and homebuilding round out the experience.


Stop Three

Visit the Museum Shop

First Floor Named the best all-around museum shop by the Washington Post, the National Building Museum’s gift store offers a curated collection of all things related to good design: jewelry, housewares, toys, books, and DC-inspired products. IPW attendees can receive 15% off.


Stop Four

Learn about Architecture of an Asylum: St. Elizabeths 1852-2017

First Floor Galleries Learn about DC history through the lens of the Government Hospital for the Insane, established in 1852 and situated in the Southeast part of the city. The multi-disciplinary exhibition tells the story of St. Elizabeths’ hospital over time, reflecting evolving theories of how to care for the mentally ill, as well as the later reconfiguration of the campus into both a federal workplace and mixed-use urban development. An important collection of architectural drawings held by the Library of Congress anchors the exhibition, as well as a spectacular 1904 model created for the St. Louis World’s Fair. Supplementing drawings and models are a wide variety of objects, from medical instruments to patient-created art, as well as depictions of insane asylums in popular culture and across the country.


Stop Five


Second Floor Galleries All ages can enjoy this exhibition about the importance of play. Take a trip down memory lane and view a selection of construction toys from the museum’s collection, from the familiar Tinkertoys and Lincoln Logs to the lesser-known Bumpalow House and Ringa-Majigs. Become a kid again and design your own buildings with small and large scale blue foam blocks!


Discover more 1-2 hour itineraries during IPW 2017.