At the National Building Museum, It’s ‘Building Stories’

A multigenerational exhibition at the National Building Museum is designed to explore the parallels between creating a book and a structure.

“It’s about the importance and role of the built environment in books,” says Caitlin Bristol, exhibitions developer at the museum.

It’s the first exhibition of its kind, and aimed at the curious. Four and a half galleries, covering 3,500 square feet, are located on the ground level next to the museum’s visitors center.

The first gallery is called “Building Readers” and provides a foundation for what visitors are about to encounter. Here’s they discover the similarities between writing stories and designing a building, with sketching and modeling, plus trial and error.

There’s the connection between words being the building blocks of stories and blocks being the components of buildings. “There are pop-up books and book dummies or drafts as a finished published project,” she says. “Most exciting is a book dummy of ‘Goodnight Moon,’ that’s available here for a year.”

Then “Your Home, My Home” defines home in its broadest sense – like a bedroom, a house, a street or a community. “And even broader, some people might not have a home or might have had to leave if they are refugees,” she says. “Books there explore these themes.”

That gallery is an immersive theater with two-minute presentations on three books where the main characters use their imaginations to create a home. An interactive wall explores concepts of homes around the world.

Next is “Scale Play,” a common theme in children’s literature for understanding systems. Here, they can break them down by looking through “The Borrowers,” “Alice in Wonderland” and “Gulliver’s Travels.”

“It helps them look at the world in different ways and navigate it in different ways,” she says. “Like skyscrapers or the Statue of Liberty it can make us feel inspired, but also overwhelmed and small.”

The last gallery is the “Wider World,” and is meant to inspire visitors to take information learned and build something better for the future. “They can band together to make a playground or a rooftop garden – to make the world what they want to see,” she says. “They see that we can create the built environment and have a say in what it look like.”

“Building Stories” will be on view for 10 years, with more books added over time.

For more, go here.