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National Building Museum to close December 2 for months of repairs

The museum expects to reopen next spring

A row of Corinthian columns inside a grand romanesque building. There are gold urns along a balcony.
The Great Hall of the National Building Museum
Universal Images Group via Getty

Original post, October 4:

Attention, architecture aficionados: The National Building Museum will temporarily close as of December 2 so its iconic Great Hall can be repaired, the museum announced Friday. The museum is anticipated to reopen in spring 2020, but a specific date was not disclosed. The U.S. General Services Administration, which manages the building, will oversee the project.

The expansive concrete floor of the Great Hall has deteriorated since the building opened in the late 19th century and will be replaced with a “modern foundation,” the museum said in a release. “This is a necessary investment in our historic building’s infrastructure and we look forward to welcoming visitors back this spring,” Chase Rynd, the executive director of the museum, noted in a statement. The building’s office will remain open during construction.

When the museum reopens, it will feature a new visitor center and classroom on the ground floor. An exhibit on D.C.-based architectural photographer Alan Karchmer will open with the renovated site, while an architecture and design film festival is set for March 26 through 29.

The closure will precede the museum’s 40th anniversary next year. Congress established the museum in 1980. But the building itself—previously the U.S. Pension Building—originally debuted in 1885. The Renaissance Revival building was designed by Montgomery C. Meigs, an ex-U.S. Army officer and civil engineer who also worked on Arlington National Cemetery. The eight Corinthian columns in the building’s Great Hall are some of the tallest in the world.

An old black-and-white photograph of the interior of a Renaissance Revival building.
The Great Hall as photographed in 1885
National Building Museum

Update, November 27:

The National Building Museum’s gift shop will stay in business during the closure, the museum said in a release Wednesday. “During the construction the F, 5th and G Street entrances remain open with the opportunity for holiday shoppers to visit daily,” notes the release. “Shoppers can also browse and support the Museum at its booth at the Downtown Holiday Market through December 23.” The gift shop hours are Mondays through Saturdays from 10 a.m to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The museum cafe will also be open.

National Building Museum

401 F Street Northwest, , DC 20001 (202) 272-2448 Visit Website