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The National Building Museum's permanent collection illuminates the building process and documents changing architectural styles and construction techniques. The current collections contain approximately 75,000 photographic images, 68,000 architectural prints and drawings, 100 linear feet of documents, and 10,000 objects, including material samples, architectural fragments, and building toys.

Exterior of a house in Queens, New York, #10 of “121 Views” of 40 Small Homes by Gross-Morton Realty.
Exterior of a house in Queens, New York, #10 of “121 Views” of 40 Small Homes by Gross-Morton Realty.
Wurts Brothers

S.H. Kress & Company Collection
Consists of 6,000 architectural plans, 7,000 photographs and 50 linear feet of documents. This collection presents a record of nearly a century of building activity for the Kress Five-and-Dimes, a variety store which once spanned the country.

Wurts Brothers Photography Collection
Starting as general commercial photographers in the 1890s, the Wurts Brothers quickly began specializing in architectural photography. They captured a variety of subjects, centered mostly on the East Coast for nearly a century (1890s through 1970).

Northwestern Terra Cotta Collection
Consists of 50,000 working drawings. This collection demonstrates the extensive and varied use of ornamental terra cotta though out the U.S. in the first half of the twentieth century.

Architectural Toy Collection
Acquired by the Museum in 2006, the Architectural Toy Collection is one of the largest and most sophisticated of its kind held in public trust within the United States.

Research Services

The National Building Museum does not maintain a reference collection or general reference materials; however, some collections may be available for study by researchers through appointment only. Read our frequently asked questions or submit a research request.

Digital Reproductions

Request a digital reproduction of an object or photograph in our collection.