February 2017

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National Building Museum celebrates 35 years!

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An American Palazzo


National Building Museum in Washington, D.C.
Photo by F.T. Eyre

In December 1980, President Carter signed legislation into law calling for the creation of a new cultural institution to teach Americans about the building arts. The idea was visionary for its time: a museum devoted to architecture, landscape architecture, engineering, construction, urban planning, historic preservation, and the many fields of design and development that compose our built environment. The legislation also called for the preservation and restoration of Montgomery Meigs’ post Civil-War masterpiece, the Pension Building, which would be the Museum's home. This unique museum was the direct result of efforts by visionary people such as Dr. Cynthia Field, Herbert Franklin, Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Robert Peck, and Beverly Willis. Recognizing the significance of America’s building heritage long before many, they worked across government organizations and among the private and non-profit sectors for more than a decade to generate the political and financial support, public awareness, and human resources necessary to create an inspiring place to teach people of every age about our building arts and sciences.

Thirty-five years later, tens of millions of people have learned about their built environment through the Museum’s exhibitions, public education programs, publications,curricula for children, mentoring programs for teenagers, and new media experiences. Through the decades, the Museum has examined subjects vital to our society including infrastructure development, affordable housing, post-disaster reconstruction, and sustainable design and construction, while always looking forward and sharing with the public visions for cities, advances in technology and materials, and access to the next generation of designers.

Today, the National Building Museum operates as a private, non-profit institution, collaborating with government, non-profit, and private partners to advance the quality of the built environment by educating the public about its impact on people’s lives.