Housed in the 1887 US Pension Building, it's free to walk through the Great Hall and building, but admission to exhibits requires an entry fee.
This year for its annual "Summer Block Party" the museum decided to create an unusual attraction to draw attention and visitors: an artificial 10,000 square foot "beach" in the central Great Hall filled with 1 million recyclable anti-microbial plastic balls through which visitors can surf.
The BEACH will only be open from July 4 to September 7, 2015. After that date it will be torn down and the materials recycled, with a different exhibit next summer.
About the National Building Museum
The building was constructed between 1882 and 1887 to house the US Pension Bureau, which had an enormous job due to the huge number of Civil War veterans.
Its innovative design came from Montgomery Meigs and included a unique method of drawing air through the building in pre-air conditioned Washington DC.
Meigs was also famous for constructing the Washington DC aqueduct (still in use today) in the 1850's to bring water into the city.
As the Union's Quartermaster General during the Civil War, Meigs confiscated Robert E. Lee's home, Arlington House, and then converted it into Arlington National Cemetery.
The National Building Museum
401 F Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20001
- Free access to the Great Hall, historic building tours, Museum Shop, & cafe
- Exhibition admission: $8 for adults $5 for youth, students, & seniors $3 a person for Building Zone only Free for Museum members
- The BEACH (non-member prices): $16 adult non-member, $13 youth/senior/student
The National Building Museum is directly across from the Metro Station at Judiciary Square.
- The Beach Moves Inside at National Building Museum (The Washington Post, 7/6/15)
- Giant Ball Pit for Grown-Ups Opens to the Public in Washington, D.C. (Vanity Fair, 7/8/15)