National Building Museum

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1887
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The National Building Museum is America’s leading cultural institution devoted to the history and impact of the built environment. We do this by telling the stories of architecture, engineering, and design. As one of the most family-friendly, awe-inspiring spots in Washington, D.C., we welcome visitors from around the world to our exhibitions, public programs, and festivals. Located just four blocks from the National Mall, the Museum occupies a magnificent building with a soaring Great Hall, colossal 75-foot-tall Corinthian columns, and a 1,200-foot terra cotta frieze.

The historic home of the National Building Museum stands today as one of the great American buildings of the nineteenth century and one of Washington, D.C.’s most spectacular works of public architecture. Built between 1882 and 1887, the project began following a Senate Appropriations Committee approval of $250,000 to purchase a suitable site and construct a fireproof building for the U.S. Pension Bureau’s headquarters. U.S. Army Quartermaster General Montgomery C. Meigs was appointed as both the architect and engineer for the building. The building was Meigs' last and most important architectural work and the one of which he was most proud.

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