DC: National Building Museum

Last Monday we took what was likely our last trip into DC by Metro. (Thank all the gods you can think of. I hate the metro. Mostly because I get nauseous. But still.) Back in April we had purchased a Groupon for two-for-one admission to the National Building Museum, and we were running out of time to go see it (we only have a few days left in DC!). It was raining Monday so we didn't really want to do anything outdoorsy. Into downtown we went.

I am incredibly interested in architecture, which is why I wanted to see this building. For a long time when I was younger I wanted to be an architect. That dream was squashed by thinking I wasn't good enough at math or drawing to make it. (I know now that the computer could have made up for these "deficiencies", but it's kind of too late at this point.) I still very much want to design and build my own house, though. And pretty much anything to do with architecture is interesting to me.

The building itself is very cool. There are not very many buildings left in DC that are actually pretty or interesting on the outside.

The first thing you see when you walk in is the giant columns. At one point these were the largest Corinthian columns in the world. They are made out of brick and plastered to look like marble.

There is also a fountain. This building was supposed to serve two purposes when it was built back in the late 1800s: to be the veteran's pension office and to host large-scale events in Washington. A whole bunch of Presidents have had their inaugural balls here.

The ceilings in all the offices were supposed to look like this, but the money ran out and it is only on one ceiling in one office.

The building designer thought of everything. The steps are not very high so that people with war injuries would be able to traverse them more easily, and it really makes a difference. The brick is lighter in the front than in the back to be able to distinguish each step. Nowadays that is done with the reflective or yellow tape, but the different brick colors worked just as well. It was cool.

We took a free docent-led tour and were able to go all the way up to the 4th floor (only tours are allowed up there). The view is pretty awesome. The floor along this is made of the original wood, too.

From the 4th floor, you can really see the columns in detail.

These windows let in tons of light and were originally designed as sort of a way to keep the air moving throughout the building. It worked so well they had to stop doing it because everyone in the building was freezing.

Do you see these little white specks dotting the walls near the roof?

They are busts of random people. They are not the originals (they were lost at some point) and were supposed to be famous people, but are really based on convicts and other people who are not famous.

This is one of the coolest parts, and we wouldn't have noticed it without the docent. It is tile made to look like embroidery. It's located in the main hall area but isn't that big and is easy to look past. It was really cool. According to the docent, it's not painted; they just used tile in those colors to make up each tile. You can feel the bumps of different colors and the squares raised to make it look like embroidery.

The other cool thing is that you can play mini golf in the building. There are two courses. You can pay $3 each to play one course with the museum admission, or you can just come by to play putt putt without going to the rest of the museum, for $5 per course per person. We did the Blue course on the recommendation of one of the guys working it (there's also a Green course).

It's cool, but not all the holes work how they are supposed to (like with lights, etc), or have the best quality. The museum solicited designs, so it's not like the courses were designed or built by putt putt professionals.

It only took us about 30 minutes to get through the whole course, even though we were actively trying to go pretty slowly. It's not really the same as going to an actual mini-golf place, but I had a good time anyway.

There aren't very many exhibits at the museum, so if you can get some deal like we did with the Groupon, your money will be better spent (it's $8/person normally, and I don't think it's really worth that much). But it is cool to check out, and you are able to go in the museum and wander the great hall, shop, and cafe without paying for museum admission.
DC: National Building Museum DC: National Building Museum Reviewed by Maria on 9:00:00 AM Rating: 5

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