Building Stories


Opening Sunday, January 21, 2024

Building Stories will bring kids and adults alike on an immersive exploration of the world of architecture, engineering, construction, and design found in the pages of children’s books. Geared toward an intergenerational audience, with special attention paid to children in grades K-3 and their parents and caregivers.

Curated by the nation’s leading expert on children’s literature, Leonard Marcus, Building Stories will be the first national exhibition to call attention to the built environment’s role as an important, and often overlooked, character in children’s literature. By activating these stories and their built worlds, and the early foundations for how we begin to understand our surroundings, Building Stories allows visitors to investigate the role the built environment plays in our own lives and communities—and how we can be agents of change for its more sustainable, equitable future.

The exhibition will encourage visitors to interact with familiar classics and new favorites through hands-on activities, media installations, sketching, reading, and building stories of their own. Award-winning author/illustrators David Macaulay and Oliver Jeffers have collaborated on this exhibition to create original environments that will offer insight into their creative processes and engage visitors to better understand the worlds created in books and encourage their role in making a better world.


National Endowment for the Humanities, The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, AARP, National Endowment for the Arts, DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, STUDIOS Architecture, The Field Fund, Whayne and Ursula Quin, American Society of Landscape Architects, DPR Construction, George Corey and Cynthia Krus, RCM&D, AECOM, Armstrong World Industries, Rebecca Ballard and John Means, Leanna Beaber, Capital One, Bonnie and Louis Cohen, DAVIS Construction, Anthony and Keiko Greenberg, Judy and Darrel Rippeteau, TJ and Elizabeth Wilkinson.