JULY 4 – September 4, 2017


The National Building Museum and Studio Gang present Hive, the latest Summer Block Party installation in the Great Hall.

Soaring to the uppermost reaches of the Museum, Hive is built entirely of more than 2,700 wound paper tubes, a construction material that is recyclable, lightweight, and renewable. The tubes vary in size from several inches to 10 feet high and will be interlocked to create three dynamic interconnected, domed chambers. Reaching 60 feet tall, the installation’s tallest dome features an oculus over 10 feet in diameter. The tubes feature a reflective silver exterior and vivid magenta interior, creating a spectacular visual contrast with the Museum’s historic nineteenth-century interior and colossal Corinthian columns.

Hive oculus, courtesy Studio Gang.
Rendering of Hive oculus, courtesy Studio Gang.

Hive’s form recalls other built and natural structures such as Saarinen’s Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Brunelleschi’s Dome at the Florence Cathedral in Italy, vernacular Musgum mud huts in Cameroon, and the curvature of a spider’s web. By utilizing the catenary shape, each chamber will balance structural forces and support its own weight, while attaining a height that enables a unique acoustic signature. The tall yet intimate forms allow visitors to inhabit the installation at the ground level and to experience it from the Museum’s upper-floor balconies, providing a variety of exciting perspectives.

Explore how a structure can modify and reflect sound, light, scale, and human interaction. Hive’s smaller chambers feature tubular instruments ranging from simple drum-like tubes to chimes suspended within the space. Each chamber has a unique acoustic properties that will affect the instruments’ tone, reverberation, and reflection as well as visitors’ perceptions. The large main chamber is topped by a soaring dome that filters the natural light of the Great Hall and creates intricate light and shadow patterns in the space. Just outside the installation, Philadelphia-based design educator Alex Gilliam’s notched cardboard Build It! Disks provide a hands-on cooperative building activity.

Special programming

A full schedule of Hive-related concerts, performances, and talks is being planned. Programs include behind-the-scenes construction tours; a special edition of the Spotlight on Design lecture series featuring MacArthur “Genius” Fellow and installation architect Jeanne Gang on July 6; summer reading lists for children and adults co-created with the DC Public Library; and an after-hours program for teens on August 10.

Hill Country Backyard Barbecue

Join us throughout the summer as Hill Country returns to our West Lawn with its Backyard BBQ, featuring food, beverages, and live music outdoors. Backyard BBQ begins June 29 and runs throughout the summer from 4–9 pm Thursdays and Fridays, and 11 am–9 pm Saturdays and Sundays.

Interactive Sound Experiences Select Saturdays, 11 am-2 pm

Take an aural journey with Professore Giuseppe, Master Concatenator, (a.k.a cross-cultural percussionist and museum Creative-in-Residence Steve Bloom). Uncover the sneaky way the Original Master Masons of the Museum instilled the Sacred Geometry with Secret Sound Dimensions in some spaces that seem to be beautiful only to the eye. Free. All ages. Offered multiple times on July 8, 15, 22, 29; August 19 & 26; and September 2.

Concerts Sundays, 2-3 pm

Join us on Sundays for our afternoon concert series in the Museum’s Great Hall.
Free, all ages.

Hive Minds

Founded by MacArthur Fellow Jeanne Gang, Studio Gang is an architecture and urban design practice based in Chicago and New York. Their award-winning projects range from the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership at Kalamazoo College in Michigan to the Aqua Tower in Chicago. In addition to designing exhibitions for the Art Institute of Chicago, Design Miami at Art Basel Miami Beach, and the Chicago Architecture Biennial, the Studio was recently selected to design the expansion of the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

Hive tickets

Tickets for Hive include admission to all other current National Building Museum exhibitions.

FREE: National Building Museum Members (Join now to get free access this summer)
$16: Adult
$13: Youth/Student with ID/Senior
$5: Blue Star ages 3 and up with ID (limit 6 per family)


Members must login and visit the Museum calendar to reserve tickets.

Admission is first come, first served (no timed entry). Free passes will be available online for members on June 13; general admission will be available for advance purchase starting June 20. Group rates are available. Tickets for Late Nights and special programs are sold separately and are not included in general admission.

Sponsored By

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Ward days

D.C. residents are invited to visit Hive with complimentary admission from 9–11 am on their specific Ward Days with story time and mobile library book check-out provided by DC Public Library. Residency is verified by id’s zip code.

July 18
Ward 3, Councilmember Cheh
Ward 8, Councilmember T. White, Sr.
At Large, Councilmember Bonds

July 25                  
Ward 1, Councilmember Nadeau
Ward 6, Councilmember Allen
At Large, Councilmember R. White

August 1             
Ward 4, Councilmember Todd
Ward 2, Councilmember Evans
At Large, Councilmember Mendelson
At Large, Councilmember Silverman

August 8             
Ward 5, Councilmember McDuffie
Ward 7, Councilmember Gray

Work Zone Cam

Watch Hive’s time-lapse construction webcam.