February 2017

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Browse Full Calendar

Past Exhibitions




November 19, 2016 - February 12, 2017

Three premier chroniclers of mid- to late-20th-century Washington examine the streets of downtown D.C. through photographs from the 1960s, ‘70s, and ‘80s.
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Small Stories: At Home in a Dollhouse

May 21, 2016 - January 22, 2017

The small stories of 12 dolls' houses from the past 300 years will be brought to life by imagining the characters that live or work there. Come and meet the residents, and discover tales of marriages and parties, politics and crime.
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Commemorating 9/ll

September 3, 2016 - November 27, 2016

Taken by Camilo José Vergara over a span of more than 45 years and focused on the site of the World Trade Center, these time-lapse sequences chronicle the development of lower Manhattan and Brooklyn. They are also a testament to the power of place, buildings, and our collective memory.
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Luminous Landscapes: Photographs by Alan Ward

February 20, 2016 - October 11, 2016

Working mostly in black and white, landscape photographer Alan Ward focuses on the fundamental material that constructs the landscape: grain, texture, bright light, dappled shade. By denying us the familiar green lawns and foliage, colored blooms and surfaces, Ward’s large format photographs challenge us to see the landscape with new eyes.
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July 2, 2016 - September 5, 2016

The Museum's summer installation with James Corner Field Operations is going to be a cool one. ICEBERGS represents a beautiful, underwater world of glacial ice fields spanning the Museum’s enormous Great Hall.
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Investigating Where We Live

July 25, 2015 - June 6, 2016

Investigating Where We Live provides teens with the opportunity to present the public with their view of Washington, D.C. This year participants explored the District through the lens of its monuments, memorials, and commemorative spaces.
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The New American Garden

October 17, 2015 - May 1, 2016

Oehme, van Sweden & Associates revolutionized landscape architecture with the New American Garden. The firm’s designs were lushly planted with ornamental grasses and perennials—relatively low-maintenance, tapestry-like landscapes created to be viewed in all four seasons.
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Gardens Speak

April 7, 2016 - April 12, 2016

Gardens Speak is a groundbreaking interactive installation by Lebanese-British artist Tania El-Khoury, examining the human cost Syria’s civil war.
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Scaling Washington

March 21, 2015 - January 10, 2016

Scaling Washington, photographer Colin Winterbottom's debut museum exhibition, features stunning large-scale images of the post-earthquake restoration of the Washington Monument and Washington National Cathedral.
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Designing for Disaster

May 11, 2014 - September 13, 2015

Design can reduce our risk and increase our resiliency to the most destructive forces of nature. From seismic retrofits and safe rooms to firebreaks and floodplain management, this exhibition explores how regional, community, and individual preparedness are the best antidotes to disaster.
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July 4, 2015 - September 7, 2015

Spanning across the majestic Great Hall, the Museum commissioned Snarkitecture to design The BEACH, which will cover 10,000 square feet and include an “ocean” of nearly one million translucent plastic balls. The BEACH will be open July 4, 2015 through Labor Day, September 7, 2015.
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HOT TO COLD: an odyssey of architectural adaptation

January 24, 2015 - August 30, 2015

Following the BIG Maze in the Great Hall this summer, the National Building Museum will present "HOT TO COLD: an odyssey of architectural adaptation," an exhibition featuring the work of BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group.
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Investigating Where We Live: D.C. Now & Next

August 2, 2014 - June 7, 2015

Local teens used photography, art, and writing to create an exhibition about what they think defines Washington, D.C.
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The Architectural Image, 1920-1950

November 8, 2014 - May 3, 2015

Between 1920 and 1950, architecture changed more profoundly and more rapidly than during any similar timespan in history. This exhibition presents prints, original drawings, and paintings from this transformational period, all drawn from a single private collection in Washington, D.C.
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The BIG Maze

July 4, 2014 - September 1, 2014

This summer, the National Building Museum, in partnership with BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group, will create a never-before-seen large-scale maze for the Museum’s historic home.
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Investigating Where We Live: Recapturing Shaw’s Legacy

July 26, 2013 - June 8, 2014

Investigating Where We Live is a summer program in which teen students from the D.C. area use multimedia technology to explore, document, and interpret the built environment of local neighborhoods.
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The Landscape Architecture Legacy of Dan Kiley

February 8, 2014 - May 18, 2014

Dan Kiley was one of the most important and influential Modernist landscape architects of the 20th century. This traveling photographic exhibition features vibrant photographs, which chronicle a selection of significant public and private commissions from Kiley’s more than 1,000 projects worldwide.
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Overdrive: L.A. Constructs the Future, 1940–1990

October 20, 2013 - March 10, 2014

Overdrive: L.A. Constructs the Future, 1940–1990 traces the city’s transformation into an internationally recognized destination with its own design vocabulary, canonized landmarks, and coveted way of life.
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Palaces for the People: Guastavino and America’s Great Public Spaces

March 16, 2013 - January 20, 2014

Palaces for the People: Guastavino and America’s Great Public Spaces sheds light on the story of Rafael Guastavino Sr. (1842-1908), arguably the most influential architectural craftsman working in late-nineteenth and early-twentieth-century America.
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Green Schools

March 3, 2013 - January 5, 2014

This exhibition will look at several examples of what is possible in green school design and provide resources for all of us to consider as we look toward constructing the next generation of school buildings.
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Mini Golf

May 27, 2013 - September 2, 2013

Combine your love of the building arts with a putter, ball, and two unique nine-hole mini golf courses designed by some of the most creative minds around.
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Investigating Where We Live: Connecting With Anacostia

July 28, 2012 - June 9, 2013

Investigating Where We Live is a summer program in which teen students from the D.C. area use multimedia technology to explore, document, and interpret the built environment of local neighborhoods.
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Detroit Disassembled

September 30, 2012 - March 17, 2013

Andrew Moore reveals the tragic beauty of Detroit in thirty monumentally scaled photographs, depicting the windowless grand hotels, vast barren factories, collapsing churches, offices carpeted in velvety moss and entire blocks reclaimed by prairie grass.
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Detroit Is No Dry Bones

September 30, 2012 - March 17, 2013

Camilo José Vergara has traveled to and photographed Detroit for over twenty five years, documenting not only the city’s precipitous decline but also how its residents have survived.
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Cityscapes Revealed: Highlights from the Collection

- January 7, 2013

Closing January 7, 2013
This exhibition highlights the building materials, architectural styles, and construction practices that defined urban America from the end of the 19th through the first half of the 20th centuries.

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Washington: Symbol and City

October 9, 2004 - January 1, 2013

Washington: Symbol and City explores how the capital expresses the tension between the demands of a working seat of government and the desire for a national symbol.
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Kevin Roche: Architecture as Environment

June 16, 2012 - December 2, 2012

This exhibition explores the work of the celebrated, third-generation modernist Kevin Roche whose architecture—from urban oases and corporate campuses to megastructures and underground museums—captures the spirit of the post-industrial age.
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LEGO® Architecture: Towering Ambition

July 3, 2010 - September 3, 2012

This exhibition showcases fifteen buildings from around the world made entirely from LEGO® bricks by Adam Reed Tucker.
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Investigating Where We Live: Capturing Colorful Communities

July 30, 2011 - June 10, 2012

Investigating Where We Live is a summer program in which teen students from the D.C. area use multimedia technology to explore, document, and interpret the built environment of local neighborhoods.
Learn more.


Unbuilt Washington

November 19, 2011 - May 28, 2012

Unbuilt Washington features unrealized proposals for noteworthy architectural and urban design projects in Washington, D.C., and its environs from the 1790s to the present.
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Walls Speak: The Narrative Art of Hildreth Meière

March 19, 2011 - January 2, 2012

Meière designed some of the most memorable murals and mosaics of the Art Deco period, including ornamentation for Radio City Music Hall. The exhibition features sketches, painted studies, and scale models that bring her creative process to life.
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Designing Tomorrow: America’s World’s Fairs of the 1930s

October 2, 2010 - September 5, 2011

Nearly 100 million Americans witnessed visions of a brighter future at six world’s fairs in the 1930s. Designing Tomorrow explores the fairs' popularization of modernism and focus on design, technology, and industry.
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Investigating Where We Live 2010

July 30, 2010 - May 15, 2011

Investigating Where We Live is a four-week summer program in which middle and high school students from the District of Columbia and the Washington metropolitan area use digital cameras to explore, document, and interpret the built environment in Washington, D.C. neighborhoods.
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Palladio and His Legacy: A Transatlantic Journey

September 2, 2010 - January 30, 2011

This exhibition offers a rare opportunity to see some of the most important drawings in the world of architecture—thirty-one, 16th-century works from the hand of the Italian Renaissance master Andrea Palladio.
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Drawing Toward Home: Designs for Domestic Architecture from Historic New England

February 20, 2010 - August 15, 2010

The drawings of houses featured in this exhibition remind us that the architecture of New England is a touchstone of American architecture. The illustrations, from the drawing collections of Historic New England, span two centuries and depict changing styles and design trends.
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U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011 Finalists: A Special Presentation

May 1, 2010 - July 25, 2010

The Museum and the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon reveal conceptual designs for twenty collegiate teams selected to appear in the 2011 competition.
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A Century of Design: The U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, 1910-2010

May 15, 2010 - July 18, 2010

Explore how this design-focused federal agency has shaped Washington, D.C., from memorials that commemorate our history and define our national identity to the public parks and projects that enhance the city and help make it a desirable place to live, work, and play.
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House of Cars: Innovation and the Parking Garage

October 17, 2009 - July 11, 2010

Parking garages are central to the way in which people move about—and for the first time, this structure takes center stage in a major exhibition at the National Building Museum.
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Investigating Where We Live 2009

August 7, 2009 - April 23, 2010

The Investigating Where We Live exhibition features students' insights and perspectives from the summer outreach program.
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Form and Movement: Photographs by Philip Trager

July 11, 2009 - January 3, 2010

Philip Trager’s extraordinary depictions of architecture and the human body illustrate symmetry and geometry, and explore relationships between shapes, the play of light, and fluidity of form.
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Green Community

October 23, 2008 - November 29, 2009

Green Community explores the origins of our precarious ecological situation and introduces communities large and small where citizens, political leaders, planning and design professionals, developers, and government agencies are working together for a more sustainable future.
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Storefront Churches: Photographs by Camilo José Vergara

June 20, 2009 - November 29, 2009

These richly textured color images narrate Camilo José Vergara’s thirty year exploration of the eclectic mix of buildings that house places of worship in some of America’s poorest urban neighborhoods.
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The Places We Live

September 18, 2009 - November 15, 2009

In a multimedia installation, visitors are admitted into the homes of 20 different families in four slums from around the world: Kibera in Nairobi, Kenya; Dharavi in Mumbai India; several barrios within Caracas, Venezuela; and the kampongs of Jakarta, Indonesia and are compelled to consider what it means to live in a city in the 21st century.
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Architecture of Authority: Photographs by Richard Ross

April 18, 2009 - August 16, 2009

This series of large-scale color photographs by Richard Ross captures the essence of “powerful” spaces from courthouses to prisons to mental institutions.
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Detour: Architecture and Design along 18 National Tourist Routes in Norway

January 28, 2009 - May 25, 2009

Explore the ways the Norwegian government has been changing their landscape with amazing architectural projects along popular tourist roads. Scenic overlooks, rest areas, and service facilities are transformed into works of art with sweeping lines, bold colors, and unexpected textures in Detour: Architecture and Design along 18 National Tourist Routes.
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Investigating Where We Live 2008

July 30, 2008 - January 19, 2009

The Investigating Where We Live exhibition features students' insights and perspectives from the summer outreach program.
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Special Presentation: The World Trade Center Model

November 18, 2008 - January 14, 2009

The National Building Museum, in association with the American Architectural Foundation, is honored to present the only remaining original presentation model of the World Trade Center.
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A Celebration of HRH The Prince of Wales’s Influence on the Built Environment

November 16, 2008 - November 23, 2008

This exhibition celebrates the tenth anniversary of The Prince’s Foundation for the Built Environment, established by His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, and showcases the Foundation’s timeless and environmentally-conscious work from the last decade.
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Life Without Leaves

September 17, 2008 - November 2, 2008

Students at the Art Institute of Washington display before and after photos of landmarks with and without trees.
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The Art of Recycling: The Coolest Show in Town

August 25, 2008 - September 2, 2008

The National Building Museum will be cooling off this summer when it hosts a special exhibition called The Art of Recycling: The Coolest Show in Town. From August 25 until September 2, the Great Hall will be filled with energy-efficient and environmentally-themed artwork created from old refrigerators as part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s ENERGY STAR® “Recycle My Old Fridge Campaign.”
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Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future

May 3, 2008 - August 24, 2008

This exhibition is the first major retrospective of the work of architect Eero Saarinen, designer of iconic works such as the St. Louis Arch and "Tulip" furniture.
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David Macaulay: The Art of Drawing Architecture

June 23, 2007 - May 4, 2008

David Macaulay: The Art of Drawing Architecture focuses on the artist’s use of drawing to research historic buildings, to render architecture from engaging perspectives, to reveal underlying structures, and to critique and redesign, in a playful manner, the contemporary landscape of American architecture.
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Marcel Breuer: Design and Architecture

November 3, 2007 - February 17, 2008

This retrospective is the first exhibition to dedicate equal attention to the various creative periods in Breuer's career. It begins with a nearly comprehensive survey of his furniture designs, categorized according to the materials used, with successive explorations in solid wood, tubular steel, aluminium, and laminated plywood.
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Lasting Foundations: The Art of Architecture in Africa

October 6, 2007 - January 13, 2008

The exhibition included original artifacts such as textiles, intricately carved house posts, doors, locks, and window frames. Among the many images featured were photographs showing murals and sculpture on buildings, images of contemporary African architecture, and a film showing the annual re-plastering of the Djenne mosque, the largest mud structure in the world.
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Reinventing the Globe: A Shakespearean Theater for the 21st Century

January 13, 2007 - October 8, 2007

This exhibition traces Shakespearean theaters from the 16th century to the present.
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The Green House: New Directions in Sustainable Architecture and Design

May 20, 2006 - June 24, 2007

The first major exhibition to explore the entire field of green residential design.
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Investigating Where We Live 2006

August 19, 2006 - November 29, 2006

Exhibit showcases projects from the National Building Museum's outreach program.
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Prairie Skyscraper: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Price Tower

June 17, 2006 - September 17, 2006

This exhibition features more than 100 drawings, models, photographs, documents, building components, and furnishings that illuminate how Wright’s dream materialized in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. Prairie Skyscraper is presented in honor of the 50th anniversary of this remarkable building.
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Newer Orleans: A Shared Space

April 29, 2006 - July 30, 2006

In its U.S. debut, Newer Orleans—A Shared Space questions whether the iconic city could have a different future in which architecture can serve to create a new sense of social commitment, political involvement, and engagement with the landscape following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.
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Julius Shulman: Modernity and the Metropolis

April 1, 2006 - July 30, 2006

The 83 original prints in this exhibition were selected from the portfolio of more than 70,000 images recently acquired by the Getty Research Institute, and provide multiple narratives of the changing aesthetics, technologies, and lifestyles framed by Julius Shulman’s lens.
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Jewish Washington: Scrapbook of an American Community

June 24, 2005 - July 4, 2006

In 1795, shortly after the site of the nation’s capital was selected, the first Jew arrived in the new federal district of Washington. Over the next two centuries, he was followed by tens of thousands of Jews, all of whom have become a part of the history that this exhibition chronicles.
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Investigating Where We Live 2005

August 13, 2005 - February 19, 2006

Exhibit showcases the results of the Museum’s outreach program.
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Liquid Stone: New Architecture in Concrete

June 19, 2004 - January 29, 2006

Liquid Stone: New Architecture in Concrete explores the critical role concrete plays in the work of some of today’s most innovative architects, who are using the material in remarkably varied ways — in some cases, even to achieve diametrically opposite design goals.
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A Building Tradition: The Work of the Prince’s School of Traditional Arts

November 5, 2005 - January 8, 2006

This exhibition presents artwork by the students, alumni, and staff of The Prince’s School of Traditional Arts. The school offers grounding in the philosophy and practical craft skills of the arts and architecture of Islam, as well as the traditional arts of other civilizations.
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Civitas: Traditional Urbanism in Contemporary Practice

November 5, 2005 - January 8, 2006

Civitas: Traditional Urbanism in Contemporary Practice explores the principles that underpin the traditional urbanism movement.
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Tools of the Imagination

March 5, 2005 - October 10, 2005

The exhibition Tools of the Imagination peeks inside the world of design to reveal how architects have produced the drawings, models, renderings, and now, animations, which show us the promise of what might be built.
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Kids’ View of the City 2005: Eaton Elementary School Student Projects

June 7, 2005 - July 31, 2005

Kids’ View of the City features projects designed by Washington, D.C., elementary school students who examined their schools’ neighborhoods during the academic year.
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OPEN: New Designs for Public Space

January 5, 2005 - May 15, 2005

OPEN explores innovative projects from around the world as it explores the role of public space in an age of heightened security and increased electronic interaction.
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Origami as Architecture

November 4, 2004 - April 10, 2005

In Origami as Architecture, works from origami architecture master Takaaki Kihara from Japan are displayed, including some of the world's largest works of origami architecture.
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5 Friends from Japan: Children in Japan Today

November 4, 2004 - February 13, 2005

This exhibition gives visitors a feel for contemporary life in Japan through the eyes of five children.
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Symphony in Steel: Ironworkers and the Walt Disney Concert Hall

January 31, 2004 - November 28, 2004

This exhibition of 100 black-and-white photographs taken by Gil Garcetti celebrates the remarkable achievements of the ironworkers who assembled the steel frame and the finish ironworkers who applied the stainless steel skin to the building.
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Samuel Mockbee and the Rural Studio: Community Architecture

May 22, 2004 - September 6, 2004

This exhibition includes both models and photographs of the Rural Studio’s completed projects, as well as a number of Mockbee’s large-scale paintings and sketchbooks inspired by his work at the Rural Studio. The installation also features a unique "carpet temple." This prototypical Rural Studio structure, created from discarded carpet yarn, was both designed and built by students from the Rural Studio.
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Affordable Housing: Designing an American Asset

February 28, 2004 - August 8, 2004

Affordable Housing: Designing an American Asset explores how the new emphasis on design excellence in affordable housing has yielded encouraging alternatives that create substantial assets for both residents and their communities.
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Kid's View of the City 2004: Eaton Elementary School Student Projects

May 23, 2004 - August 1, 2004

Exhibit features art projects by first and second grade students from John Eaton Elementary School in Washington, D.C.
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Envisioning Architecture: Drawings from the Museum of Modern Art, New York

March 20, 2004 - June 20, 2004

This exhibition, which features the work of more than 60 architects, represents the breadth and variety of the past 100 years of architecture and highlights the artistry of this extraordinary collection
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DC Builds: The Anacostia Waterfront

January 17, 2004 - June 6, 2004

DC Builds: The Anacostia Waterfront tells the river’s complex story: its ecology, its life as a working river and built environment, and current efforts to restore it as a place of beauty and civic potential.
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Up, Down, Across: Elevators, Escalators, and Moving Sidewalks

September 12, 2003 - April 18, 2004

Elevators, escalators, and moving sidewalks have radically transformed our buildings, our cities, and our lives. Viewed in their historical and design contexts — as mechanical systems, as the inspiration for new architectural forms, and through their presentation in film — these devices become objects of fascination and vehicles for discovery.
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Masonry Variations

October 18, 2003 - April 4, 2004

Masonry has a long history as a building medium, and in one form or another it is represented in the architecture of almost every culture in the world.
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Stories of Home: Photographs by Bill Bamberger

December 3, 2003 - March 7, 2004

Drawn from Bamberger’s work in Chattanooga, San Antonio, and North Carolina, the exhibition pairs compelling, large-scale portraits and intimate visual essays with excerpted interviews to reveal the powerful impact homeownership has not just on the lives of lower-income Americans, but on all of us.
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Tools As Art: The Hechinger Collection--Instruments of Change

January 1, 2004 - February 9, 2004

Through more than sixty sculptures, paintings, photographs, crafts, prints, and drawings, Tools as Art: The Hechinger Collection - Instruments of Change traces the use of tools as a hallmark of civilization and a source of artistic creativity.
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Online Exhibitions

Liquid Stone: New Architecture in Concrete


Past Exhibitions, 1985 - 2002

View a comprehensive list of older exhibitions from the Museum's opening in 1985 through 2002.