Monday, February 02, 2009

Building Museum

Yummy and I finally got to hit the National Building Museum Saturday. We've been trying this for weeks but usually by the time we roll out of bed and get some breakfast it's late enough that the museums would be near closing by the time we got there.

The Green Communities exhibit that you keep seeing signs for all over town will continue to run until October 2009. The whole exhibit is about ways to improve a community to make it greener. It talks about unsightly and toxic areas of cities and how some places are working to clean them.
They had some neat technologies in the exhibit, but for some reason I wasn't thrilled with the exhibit itself. Probably because I've seen most of what they were talking about before. On either end of the room there are two projectors aimed so that the images from the two overlap with only a slight seam. The projectors are placed above the screen and out a few inches so that your body doesn't create a shadow. I'm thinking there was some serious keystone adjustments. Anyway, there was a grid of laser going over the projection surface so it would see which ones broke when you touched the screen and respond.
There's also a series of projectors in the hall outside the exhibit. They're like those things you may have seen at your local mall. You know, where different games are projected on the ground and kids run around in the light kicking projected balls and the like. This had 3-4 projectors making a road. You'd stand on a bus, car, or bike at the beginning of the street, and walk it along the road and read messages about the amount of pollution you're not making by using those methods.

We also saw the Detour traveling exhibit. It talks about some tourist routes that have been established in Norway. There are models of the different scenic areas and a video showing you what they look like in practice. The video is shown in a round chamber that has eight visors allowing you to peek inside. This restricts the viewership to only eight people at a time. With a movie running about 15 minutes there can get to be a good sized and semi-grumpy crowd behind you. Luckily the Building Museum isn't terribly popular.

There's also an exhibit showing highlights from their cityscape collection. You see different kinds of bricks and terracotta molding and how they've been used to decorate the outsides of various grand buildings. There are some tiny little bricks that you can use to build walls. Educational cards talk about how to build different kinds of bond. Bond is what they call the different styles of brick layout. [link]

The gift shop is pretty good if you have money you're willing to spend. It's the sort of place you want to go when you're clean out of gift ideas.

I'm not sure what was happening, but one corner of the main floor was littered with little kids playing with different kinds of blocks. One kid was making a rather impressive looking tower when it started to topple and another kid came charging through it. Another 5 seconds and the future engineer's father would have had a picture of the building from the balcony.

I would recommend the Building Museum to people who are in DC for a second or third visit. Even for the locals a yearly visit wouldn't be amiss. They rotate out exhibits more frequently than some of the bigger and better known places. And the building itself is something to behold.


Sweetly Single said...

wow, that sounds like such a cool place.

Mike Rhode said...

doug neglected to mention that it was historically the largest indoor place in DC and full of balls and the like for inaugurations. It's a magnificent space. There's a Civil War frieze around the outside because it used to be the Pension building where clerks worked on Civil War pension requests.

Ibid said...

Is that why that's out there? Cool.

The indoor space is huge. They have paper airplane and indoor kite flying competitions in there.