Historic Building Tours
Discover one of Washington's Most Spectacular Structures
"I love the expression of surprise that registers on visitors' faces when they enter the Museum. The interior space never ceases to delight and awe my tour clients, and the wonderful exhibits offer an unexpected learning pleasure. The National Building Museum is an experience!"
—Jeanne Fogel, owner of A Tour de Force: Guided Tours of Washington, D.C.
Informative, fascinating tours of the Museum’s historic home are offered daily by Museum docents. Constructed of more than 15 million bricks, the Museum houses some of the largest Corinthian columns in the world and has been the site of 17 Presidential Inaugural balls, from Grover Cleveland's in 1885 to Barack Obama's in 2009. Come face-to-face with the colossal capitals of the Corinthian columns as you tour the Museum's fourth floor—not accessible to the general public!
Our historic building was inspired by two Roman palaces. The Museum’s exterior is modeled closely on the brick, monumentally-scaled Palazzo Farnese, completed to Michelangelo’s specifications in 1589. The Museum’s interior, with its open, arcaded galleries surrounding a central hall, is reminiscent of the early-sixteenth-century Palazzo della Cancelleria. For the colossal Corinthian columns that divide the Great Hall, the building took its inspiration from the church of Santa Maria degli Angeli in Rome built by Michelangelo in the mid-sixteenth century.
(Recommended for ages 13 and up)
Tours last 45 minutes and are offered daily at 11:30 am, 12:30 pm, and 1:30 pm. For groups of 10 or more, please book a Custom Tour.
Tours are subject to docent availability. Please call 202.272.2448 for docent assurance.
All tours are free and reservations are not required for individuals or groups fewer than 10. For groups of 10 or more, please see Custom Tours for more information. All tours are subject to docent availability.