National Building Museum to open Animals, Collected

Categories: Articles, Other

New exhibition features never-before-shown objects from the collection

Blueprint sketch of winged bull, by Frohman, Robb & Little Architects. Courtesy Washington National Cathedral Construction Archives Collection.
Photo: Full-size blueprint sketch of winged bull, by Frohman, Robb & Little Architects, 1942. Courtesy Washington National Cathedral Construction Archives Collection.

WASHINGTON, D.C.— On April 20, 2019, the National Building Museum opens Animals, Collected, a new exhibition featuring architectural objects depicting animals, all drawn from the permanent collection. Imagined as a cabinet of curiosities, Animals, Collected presents two- and three-dimensional materials that encourage closer inspection of the buildings we see every day. With over 125 objects—many of which have never been displayed publicly—Animals, Collected is open through spring 2020.

As ornament on municipal buildings and monuments, churches and warehouses, animals have appeared on structures and statues across time, geography, and function. The exhibition is organized by animal habitat, where groupings will illuminate different phases of the design and construction process. Although the methods have changed over time, artifacts such as these emphasize the imagination, artistry, and the tools required to create and document the built environment.

The National Building Museum permanent collection holds over 250,000 objects related to the building arts, the vast majority of which are rarely exhibited. Animals, Collected features objects from a range of collections, including:

More than fifty different species of animals are featured on drawings, photographs, models, building materials, and tools. Depictions of animals have been used as shorthand for ideas, individuals, and character traits for thousands of years, all over the globe. Sometimes overlooked in plain sight, architects and artists have chosen these creatures for a reason. Animals, Collected will explore some of that history and symbolism, while giving a behind-the-scenes look at how buildings are designed.

With questions or to arrange a tour, please contact Emma Filar at

Images are available at All photos are courtesy National Building Museum.

The National Building Museum inspires curiosity about the world we design and build. We believe that understanding the history and impact of architecture, engineering, landscape architecture, construction, and design is important for all ages. Through exhibitions and educational programs, we show how the built world has power to shape our lives, communities, and futures. Public inquiries: 202.272.2448 or visit Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.