Joy of Museums Virtual Tours

Virtual Tours of Museums, Art Galleries, and Historic Sites

National Building Museum – Virtual Tour

National Building Museum - Virtual Tour

National Building Museum – Virtual Tour

The National Building Museum is a museum of architecture, design, engineering, construction, and urban planning. The museum was created by an act of Congress in 1980 and hosts various exhibits in galleries around the Great Hall.

The building that houses the museum was completed in 1887 for the United States Pension Bureau. It is an early example of Renaissance Revival architecture.

The building is notable for several architectural features:

  • The interior Corinthian columns are among the largest in the world, measuring 75 ft. (23 m) tall and 8 ft. (2.4 m) in diameter.
  • A frieze stretching around the exterior of the building was sculpted by Caspar Buberl and depicts Civil War soldiers.
  • The frieze sculpture consists of 28 different scenes, totaling 69 feet (21 m) in length with over 1,300 figures.
  • The sculpture includes infantry, navy, artillery, cavalry, medical, and quartermaster functions, from the Civil War.
  • An African American teamster freed by the war is depicted in the quartermaster panel.
  • All the building’s offices had exterior windows and were opened onto the court, which was designed to admit fresh air at ground level and hot exhaust air at the roof.
  • The stairs were designed for disabled and aging veterans, having a gradual ascent with low steps.
  • The Great Hall, measuring 316 × 116 feet (96 × 35 m), has been used for United States presidential inaugural balls.
  • A Presidential Seal is set into the floor near the south entrance.

The building’s architect departed from the established Greco-Roman models that were the basis of most government buildings in Washington, D.C. The design was based on Italian Renaissance precedents, notably Rome’s Palazzo Farnese and the Palazzo della Cancelleria.

The building was used for federal government offices until the 1960s, and later the building has formally renamed the National Building Museum in 1997.

National Building Museum - Virtual Tour

The frieze stretching around the exterior of the building depicting Civil War soldiers

National Building Museum

National Building Museum - Virtual Tour

The National Building Museum building

National Building Museum Map

National Building Museum – 360 views

National Building Museum – 360 views

National Building Museum – 360 views

National Building Museum – 360 views

Virtual Tour of the National Museums of the United States

National Building Museum

National Building Museum

National Building Museum

Virtual Tour of American Museums

National Building Museum

National Building Museum

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“The higher the buildings the lower the morals.”
– Noël Coward

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Photo Credit: Daderot / Public domain; See page for author / CC BY-SA (creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/); AgnosticPreachersKid / CC BY-SA (creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

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