National Building Museum Postpones Summer Block Party and Other Programming Due to Ongoing Coronavirus Pandemic

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Folger Shakespeare Playhouse, a partnership with the Folger Shakespeare Library, has been rescheduled to July/August 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C.Today the National Building Museum announced that it is postponing until 2021 several large public programs and events that were scheduled to occur over the summer and into the early fall. This includes the Summer Block Party, the Museum’s annual grand installation in the Great Hall for the months of July and August. For 2020, the Museum had partnered with the Folger Shakespeare Library, in association with the University of South Carolina, on the Folger Shakespeare Playhouse, an Elizabethan-inspired stage that would host family-friendly programming during the day and show performances of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the evening.

“The ongoing shutdown in D.C. and elsewhere has severly limited the Museum’s ability, and that of our partners, to plan and produce programming,” said Executive Director Chase Rynd, Hon. ASLA. “And with no clarity yet on what the post-shutdown landscape will look like, when a reopening will occur, or what the safe parameters for groups will be, we talked with Folger and agreed that the prudent course of action is to postpone Shakespeare’s Playhouse until summer 2021. By then, we all hope, things will have returned to something closer to normal, and the wonderful installation and programming can be fully experienced by a robust audience of locals and tourists alike.”

Michael Witmore, Director of the Folger Shakespeare Library, said, “We look forward to presenting a beautiful Midsummer Night’s Eve performance inside the National Building Museum, bringing the magic of live theater to the Museum’s already-stunning building. Because we want everyone to enjoy the daytime and evening programming, we have taken the decision with our partner to defer the Folger Shakespeare Playhouse until the summer of 2021. We are grateful to have a partner who shares our conviction that this programming can be offered safely and effectively in a year’s time.”

In addition to the Summer Block Party, the Museum is postponing or rescheduling other upcoming programs and events as well:

  • Summer Camp: The Museum’s series of programs for school-age children, which includes hands on activities, field trips, and more, will return in 2021. The Education department will contact people who have already signed up for Summer Camp.
  • National Building Museum Gala: The institution’s annual fundraising party, initially scheduled for early June and then moved to late September shortly after the coronavirus shutdown affected D.C., will not take place in 2020. Instead, the Museum will pivot to another fundraising campaign effort, which is still being planned, and will bring the Gala back to the Great Hall in 2021. Currently, the Museum is promoting the Resilience Campaign, which seeks to raise $100,000 by May 31. To date, more than $25,000 has been donated.

Because of the continuing and profound financial impact the Museum is experiencing due to an extended closure that follows a three-month closure for necessary construction work, the private nonprofit institution is also starting staffwide partial furloughs that will take effect on Friday, May 1. Working hours for furloughed employees will be reduced to one degree or another, from 20% to 80%. The Museum does not know when the furloughs will be lifted, or if further cuts may be needed in the months ahead. Early in April, the Museum fully furloughed all hourly staff, whose tasks and workload are primarily centered around visitor services.

“It cannot be understated how much the Museum is suffering financially because it remains closed,” said Rynd. “In addition to lost income from visitors, we generate a steady and significant cash flow from Great Hall event rentals. Both of these revenue streams are now dry, and we don’t know when they will start again. These furloughs are a necessary move to reduce our monthly expenditures in order to keep the Museum in the best place possible, financially, when it comes time to reopen our doors. We look forward to that day.”

Braulio Agnese,

The National Building Museum is America’s leading cultural institution dedicated to advancing the quality of the built environment by educating people about its impact on their lives. Through its exhibitions, educational programs, web content, and publications, the Museum has become a vital forum for the exchange of ideas and information about the world we build for ourselves. Public inquiries: (202) 272-2448 or visit Connect with us on Twitter and Facebook.