The Museum remains open with regular hours during the government shutdown.
Federal employees receive free admission by showing their federal badges at the admissions desk.




Hive is now closed. 

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 in the Great Hall. Photo By Timothy Schenck.

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.

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.

Special programming

A full schedule of Hive-related concerts, performances, and talks is being planned. Programs include 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 July 6 and runs throughout the summer from 4–9 pm Thursdays and Fridays, and 11 am–9 pm Saturdays and Sundays.

Late Nights
Wednesdays, 6-9 pm
Experience Hive after-hours with musical performances, drinks and food from Hill Country’s Backyard Barbecue, and more. Tickets for Late Nights and special programs are sold separately and are not included in general admission.

Wednesday, August 23 Hive Late Night is free for teachers and school administrators with registration.

DISCOVERED! Amazing Untold Stories of Catenarians
July 27, August 17, August 31, 3-4 pm
Join dog & pony dc artist-explorers in an interactive performance to unlock the mysteries of Catenaria, a secret world magically revealed by the Museum’s Hive. For all ages. Limited to 65 people, first come, first served.

Professore Giuseppe, Master Concatenator!
July 22, July 29, August 19, August 26, 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). As you move through the Museum’s historic architecture with Professore Giuseppe you’ll compare the sounds and vibrations of the different spaces through synchronized group drumming and vocals. Free. For adventurers of all ages. Includes stair climbing. Limited to 25 people, first come, first served.

Free Concerts
Sundays, 2-3 pm
Join us on Sundays for our afternoon concert series in the Museum’s Great Hall.

Acoustic Interactions
July 11, 6:30-8 pm

Through audience participation, Chris Pollock, PE, associate principal with Arup, demonstrates how architectural form, like Hive’s catenary arch shape and the volume of the Museum’s Great Hall, impacts our experience of sound, perception, and emotions.

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.

In Kind Donors:

Special thank you to Clark Construction Group LLC, Construction Camera by EarthCam, DAVIS Construction, Sunbelt Rentals, and Thornton Tomasetti.

Additional thank you to Atmosphere Lighting, Broad Run Recycling LLC, COLUMBIA | ENGINEERING, Carleton Laboratory, Glass Construction, Inc., Lighting Designers: Lightswitch, Monarch Paint & Design Center, Patuxent Engineering Group, Scotty’s Fire Extinguisher Service, Stephen Brooks Construction Group, and Threshold Acoustics LLC.