The Info List - National Building Museum

--- Advertisement ---

The National Building Museum
National Building Museum
is located at 401 F Street NW in Washington, D.C., United States. It is a museum of "architecture, design, engineering, construction, and urban planning". It was created by an act of Congress in 1980, and is a private non-profit institution; it is adjacent to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial and the Judiciary Square Metro station. The museum hosts various temporary exhibits in galleries around the spacious Great Hall. The building, completed in 1887, served as the Pension Building, housing the United States Pension Bureau, and hosted several presidential inaugural balls. It is an important early large-scale example of Renaissance Revival architecture, and was designated a National Historic Landmark
National Historic Landmark
in 1985.


1 Pension Building 2 Becoming a museum

2.1 Museum Shop

3 American politics 4 Awards 5 Outreach programs 6 Images 7 See also 8 References 9 Further reading 10 External links

Pension Building[edit] The National Building Museum
National Building Museum
is housed in the former Pension Bureau building, a brick structure completed in 1887 and designed by Montgomery C. Meigs, the U.S. Army quartermaster general.[2] It is notable for several architectural features, including the spectacular interior columns and a frieze, sculpted by Caspar Buberl, stretching around the exterior of the building and depicting Civil War soldiers in scenes somewhat reminiscent of those on Trajan's Column
Trajan's Column
as well as the Horsemen Frieze
of the Parthenon. The vast interior, measuring 316 × 116 feet (96 × 35 m),[3] has been used to hold inauguration balls; a Presidential Seal is set into the floor near the south entrance.

Interior of the Pension Office, ca. 1918

After the Civil War, the United States Congress passed legislation that greatly extended the scope of pension coverage for veterans and their survivors and dependents, notably their widows and orphans. The number of staff needed to implement and administer the new benefits system ballooned to over 1,500, and quickly required a new building from which to run it all. Meigs was chosen to design and construct the new building. He departed from the established Greco-Roman models that had been the basis of government buildings in Washington, D.C., until then and which continued after the Pension Building's completion. Meigs based his design on Italian Renaissance precedents, notably Rome's Palazzo Farnese and the Palazzo della Cancelleria.[3]

The National Building Museum's Corinthian columns are among the largest in the world measuring 75 ft. (23 m) tall and 8 ft. (2.4 m) in diameter[2]

Included in his design was a frieze sculpted by Caspar Buberl. Because a sculpture of that size was well out of Meigs's budget, he had Buberl create 28 different scenes, totaling 69 feet (21 m) in length, which were then mixed and slightly modified to create the continuous 1,200-foot (365-m) parade of over 1,300 figures. Because of the 28 sections' modification and mixture, it is only in careful examination that the frieze is seen to be the same figures repeated several times. The sculpture includes infantry, navy, artillery, cavalry, and medical components, as well as a good deal of the supply and quartermaster functions, for it was in that capacity that Meigs had served during the Civil War. Meigs's correspondence with Buberl reveals that Meigs insisted that a black teamster, who "must be a negro, a plantation slave, freed by war", be included in the quartermaster panel. This figure was ultimately to assume a central position, over the building's west entrance. Built before modern artificial ventilation, the building was designed to maximize air circulation: all offices not only had exterior windows, but also opened onto the court, which was designed to admit cool air at ground level and exhaust hot air at the roof. Made of brick and tile, the stairs were designed for the limitations of disabled and aging veterans, having a gradual ascent with low steps. In addition, each step slanted slightly from back to front to allow easy drainage: a flight could be washed easily by pouring water from the top. When Philip Sheridan
Philip Sheridan
was asked to comment on the building, his biting reply echoed the negative sentiment of much of the Washington establishment of the day: "Too bad the damn thing is fireproof." A similar quote is also attributed to William Tecumseh Sherman, perhaps casting doubt on the truth of the Sheridan tale. The completed building, sometimes called "Meigs Old Red Barn", required more than 15,000,000 bricks,[4] which, according to the wit of the day, were each counted by the parsimonious Meigs. Becoming a museum[edit]

Logo of the National Building Museum, 2012

The building was used for federal government offices until the 1960s when it had fallen into a state of disrepair and was considered for demolition. After pressure from conservationists, the government commissioned a report by architect Chloethiel Woodard Smith
Chloethiel Woodard Smith
of possible other uses for the building. Her 1967 report suggested a museum dedicated to the building arts. The building was then listed on the National Register of Historic Places
National Register of Historic Places
in 1969. In 1980, Congress created the National Building Museum
National Building Museum
as a private, non-profit institution. The building itself was formally renamed the National Building Museum in 1997.[3] Every year, the annual Christmas in Washington program was filmed at the museum, with the President and First Lady until the show's cancellation in 2015. Museum Shop[edit] The National Building Museum
National Building Museum
Shop was honored in 2007 as the "Best Museum Store" in the country by Niche magazine, "Best All-Around Museum Shop" in the region by The Washington Post,[5] a "Top Shop" by the Washingtonian,[6] and named best museum shop in D.C. by National Geographic Traveler's blog, Intelligent Travel, in July 2009.[7] In 2010, The Huffington Post
The Huffington Post
included the National Building Museum
National Building Museum
in a story, "Museums with Amazing Gift Shops".[8] The Museum Shop sells books about the built environment and an array of housewares, educational toys, watches, and items for an office, all with an emphasis on design. American politics[edit] On June 7, 2008, Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton
suspended her campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination with a farewell rally inside the museum.[9] Several of Clinton's most recognized quotes and sayings were first spoken on this date to several hundreds of supporters, including "If we can blast fifty women into space, we will someday launch a woman into the White House."[10] Awards[edit] The National Building Museum
National Building Museum
presents three annual awards: the Honor Award for individuals and organizations who have made important contributions to the U.S.'s building heritage; the Vincent Scully Prize, which honors exemplary practice, scholarship, or criticism in architecture, historic preservation, and urban design; and the Henry C. Turner Prize for Innovation in Construction Technology, which recognizes outstanding leadership and innovation in the field of construction methods and processes.[citation needed] Outreach programs[edit] Investigating Where We Live Investigating Where We Live is a summer program for teens from the DC metropolitan area. Students spend four weeks in teams equipped with cameras, and sketchbooks to discover the local communities. Students are given an introduction to photography and then investigate neighborhoods in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Documenting history, landmarks, and residential areas, students assemble the community's identity. The original photographs and writings are incorporated into an exhibition at the Museum. Since 1996, more than 500 students have participated in learning about different communities within the District of Columbia.[11] Upon completion of the program, participants:

Receive a digital camera Develop relationships with professional photographers, designers, museum staff, and fellow participants Keep photographs for use in future projects, portfolios, or high school and college applications Fulfill community service requirements for school[12]

Previous exhibits include "Investigating Where We Live: Recapturing Shaw's Legacy" which taught high school students about DC's Shaw neighborhood.[13][14] Images[edit]

National Building Museum
National Building Museum
(Capitol building in background)

National Building Museum
National Building Museum
from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial (F Street NW)

National Building Museum

Corner figures, exterior frieze

South entrance

Black teamster, exterior frieze

Great Hall during 2010 Honor Award
Honor Award

2005 Vincent Scully Prize
Vincent Scully Prize

Gallery in the 2008-2009 exhibition Green Community

Family activity at the 2008 Festival of the Building Arts

See also[edit]

List of National Historic Landmarks in Washington, D.C.


^ National Park Service
National Park Service
(2008-04-15). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.  ^ a b " National Building Museum
National Building Museum
Facts". National Building Museum. Retrieved July 15, 2008.  ^ a b c "Our Historic Building". National Building Museum. Retrieved July 15, 2008.  ^ National Building Museum
National Building Museum
Web Site Archived July 7, 2010, at the Wayback Machine. retrieved June 27, 2010 ^ "And the Winners Are...". Washington Post. December 8, 2000.  ^ Mary Clare Glover (July 1, 2007). "Top Museum Shops". Washingtoanian.  ^ Sarah Aldrich (July 29, 2009). "10 Best Museum Shops in DC". Intelligent Travel, National Geographic. Archived from the original on April 14, 2010.  ^ "Museums With Amazing Gift Shops, Ripe For Holiday Shopping (PHOTOS)". Huffington Post travel. December 3, 2010.  ^ Nagourney, Adam; Mark Leibovich (June 8, 2008). "Ending Her Bid, Clinton Backs Obama". The New York Times. Retrieved June 7, 2008.  ^ The Washington Post. "44 - Clinton's Last Hurrah." Anne E. Kornblut. 7 June 2008. Retrieved May 12, 2012. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on September 27, 2013. Retrieved September 27, 2013.  ^ http://www.nbm.org/families-kids/teens-young-adults/iwwl-program.html ^ http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/articles/44645/investigating-where-we-live-recapturing-shaws-legacy-at-national-building/ ^ Morello, Carol (July 6, 2013). " National Building Museum
National Building Museum
helps teens explore Shaw, a neighborhood in transition". The Washington Post. 

Further reading[edit]

Lyons, Linda Brody, Building a Landmark: A Guide to the Historic Home of the National Building Museum, National Building Museum, Washington D.C., 1999 McDaniel, Joyce L., The Collected Works of Caspar Buberl: An Analysis of a Nineteenth Century American Sculptor, MA thesis, Wellesley College, Wellesley, Massachusetts, 1976 Weeks, Christopher, AIA Guide to the Architecture of Washington, D.C., 3rd ed., Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994, pp. 73–74. Schiavo, Laura Burd. National Building Museum: Art Spaces. New York: Scala Publishers, 2007.

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to National Building Museum.

Official website Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) No. DC-76, "Pension Building, 440 G Street Northwest, Washington, District of Columbia, DC", 57 photos, 4 color transparencies, 1 measured drawing, 9 data pages, 6 photo caption pages National Park Service
National Park Service
- National Historic Landmarks Program - Pension Building listing General Services Administration page on the Pension Building (National Building Museum) National Building Museum
National Building Museum
Investigating Where We Live Washington City Paper Washington Post Downtown DC

v t e

Landmarks of Washington, D.C.


Adams African American Civil War American Veterans Disabled for Life Belmont-Paul Women's Equality National Monument Mary McLeod Bethune Boy Scout James Buchanan D.C. War Albert Einstein Emancipation John Ericsson First Division James A. Garfield Samuel Gompers Ulysses S. Grant Holocaust Museum Holodomor Genocide Japanese American Patriotism During World War II Jefferson Memorial Lyndon Baines Johnson Grove John Paul Jones Marquis de Lafayette Law Enforcement Officers Lincoln Memorial Martin Luther King, Jr. Korean War Veterans George Mason George Meade National Statuary Hall Collection Navy – Merchant Marine Nuns of the Battlefield Peace Monument Pentagon Second Division Signers of the Declaration of Independence The Extra Mile The Three Soldiers Jean de Rochambeau Franklin Delano Roosevelt Theodore Roosevelt Island Taras Shevchenko Statues of the Liberators Oscar Straus Robert A. Taft Titanic United States Air Force United States Navy Victims of Communism Vietnam Veterans Vietnam Women's Washington Monument Daniel Webster World War II

Rainbow Pool


Capitol Reflecting Pool Immaculate Conception Basilica Ford's Theatre

Petersen House

Healy Hall Islamic Center Jefferson Pier John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Library of Congress National Arboretum National Building Museum National Gallery of Art Lincoln's Cottage at Soldiers' Home Lincoln Memorial
Lincoln Memorial
Reflecting Pool National Archives Newseum National Cathedral National Mall Old Post Office Pavilion Old Stone House Smithsonian Institution The Arts of War and The Arts of Peace Tidal Basin Treasury Building Tudor Place Union Station United States Capitol United States Supreme Court Building White House Willard Hotel

Parks and plazas

Constitution Gardens Dupont Circle East Potomac Park Freedom Plaza Lafayette Square L'Enfant Plaza Meridian Hill Park National Arboretum Pershing Park Rock Creek Park The Ellipse United States Botanic Garden West Potomac Park


Anacostia River Arlington Memorial Bridge Boundary Markers of the Original District of Columbia Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Constitution Avenue Francis Scott Key Bridge Pennsylvania Avenue Potomac River Zero Milestone


Adams Memorial Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial General Francis Marion
Francis Marion
Memorial Gold Star Mothers Monument National Desert Storm and Desert Shield War Memorial National Liberty Memorial Peace Corps Monument World War I


National Capital Memorial Advisory Commission National Mall
National Mall
and Memorial Parks List of National Historic Landmarks in Washington, D.C. National Register of Historic Places
National Register of Historic Places
in Washington, D.C.

Public art in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
(Outdoor sculpture, American Revolution Statuary, Civil War Monuments, commemorating African-Americans)

v t e

U.S. National Register of Historic Places


Architectural style categories Contributing property Historic district History of the National Register of Historic Places Keeper of the Register National Park Service Property types

Lists by states

Alabama Alaska Arizona Arkansas California Colorado Connecticut Delaware Florida Georgia Hawaii Idaho Illinois Indiana Iowa Kansas Kentucky Louisiana Maine Maryland Massachusetts Michigan Minnesota Mississippi Missouri Montana Nebraska Nevada New Hampshire New Jersey New Mexico New York North Carolina North Dakota Ohio Oklahoma Oregon Pennsylvania Rhode Island South Carolina South Dakota Tennessee Texas Utah Vermont Virginia Washington West Virginia Wisconsin Wyoming

Lists by insular areas

American Samoa Guam Minor Outlying Islands Northern Mariana Islands Puerto Rico Virgin Islands

Lists by associated states

Federated States of Micronesia Marshall Islands Palau

Other areas

District of Columbia Mor