On Exhibit: A Selection of Exhibitions from 1980-2010


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An exploration of 40 of the Museum's outstanding home-grown past exhibitions from 1980 through 2010.

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On Exhibit: A Selection of Exhibitions from 1980-2010

  1. 1. On Exhibit A Selection of Exhibitions from 1980 — 2010
  2. 2. Sheet Metal Craftsmanship Progress in Building January – August 1988 Sheet Metal Craftsmanship celebrated the many uses of sheet metal and the skills of those who shape it. The exhibition’s structures were designed by architect Frank Gehry as sculpture on a grand scale, and built by nearly 600 union sheet metal workers and contractors. Photo: Walter Smalling, Jr. The installation was placed in the Museum’s Great Hall and contained 35,000 square feet of sheet metal. Curator: David Chase
  3. 3. Tools as Art: The Hechinger Collection Exhibition Series September 1989 – February 2004 Catalogue: Pete Hamill, Tools As Art: The Hechinger Collection (Abrams, 1995) The Museum hosted a series of six exhibitions featuring the acclaimed collection of John Hechinger, Sr. The series included: • Tools as Art: The Hechinger Collection (September 1989 – March 1990) • Tools as Art II: Exploring Metaphor (April 11, 1997 – September 28, 1997) • Tools as Art III: All Saws (October 31, 1997 – April 19, 1998) • Tools as Art IV: Material Illusions (June 26, 1998 – May 16, 1999) • Tools as Art V: Fantasy at Work Photo: Museum Staff (June 30, 1999 – January 9, 2000) • Tools as Art VI: Instruments of Change (September 16, 2000 – February 9, 2004)
  4. 4. Washington: Symbol and City June 1991 – September 3, 2001 This first installation of the Museum’s long-running exhibition introduced visitors to the story of how Washington, D.C. has developed over time. Washington: Symbol and City traced the city’s history from its beginning, when the nation’s founders believed that the capital should symbolize the new American democracy. It discussed the development of monumental Photo: Allan Sprecher buildings as well as the transformation of the city into a metropolis. Curator: Melissa McLoud Exhibition Design: Miles Fridberg Molinaroli
  5. 5. From Mars to Main Street America Designs, 1965-1990 November 1992 – February 1994 From Mars to Main Street explored the scope and diversity of the federal government’s design impact on our lives. The exhibiton argued that the form and quality of the built and natural environment has been influenced by the design services our government has purchased, commissioned, or produced. Photo: Museum Staff Curators: William Bushong and Jim Johnson Exhibition Design: Lee Skolnik, Architecture and Design Partnership
  6. 6. Barn Again! March 12 – September 11, 1994 Traveling exhibition: March 1997 - February 2006 (by The Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service) Barn Again! asserted that the barn is an adaptable agricultural structure, a symbol of community and country life, and a monument in the American landscape. A late nineteenth-century heavy timber- frame barn was raised in the Great Hall at the opening of the exhibition. Curator: Gregory K. Dreicer Exhibition Design: Huntley Design Inc.
  7. 7. World War II and the American Dream How Wartime Building Changed a Nation November 11, 1994 – December 31, 1995 Catalogue: Donald Albrecht, ed., World War II and the American Dream: How Wartime Building Changed a Nation (The MIT Press, 1995) World War II and the American Dream presented the products of the U.S. Government’s war building program. The building program involved a wide variety of construction projects, including factories, test facilities, and housing. The exhibition displayed a variety of these projects—from the Quonset hut to plexiglass and standardized housing—and explored the effects of war on the material dreams and aspirations of all Americans. Photo: Paul Warchol Curator: Donald Albrecht Exhibition Design: Michael Sorkin Studio and Design Writing Research
  8. 8. Building the Ballyhoo Architectural Photography by the Wurts Brothers Company February 16 – August 18, 1996 Building the Ballyhoo featured the Museum’s collection of photographic prints produced by the Wurts Brothers commercial photography firm. The exhibition demonstrated how these images helped generate enthusiasm for a century of American building and shaped popular understanding of the built environment in the United States. Curator: Carolyn M. Goldstein
  9. 9. Between Fences May 31, 1996 – January 5, 1997 Catalogue: Gregory K. Dreicer, Between Fences (Princeton Traveling exhibition: 2005-current (by The Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhbition Service) Architectural Press, 1996) Between Fences traced the history of the fence in North America and its effect on the American landscape. The exhibition also introduced the concept that fences are essential to the way we think about land, the way we behave on that land, and the way we expect our land to look. Photo: Clifford Russell, Jr. Curator: Gregory K. Dreicer Exhibition Design: Boym Design Studio
  10. 10. Main Street Five-and-Dimes The Architectural Heritage of the S. H. Kress & Co. Stores May 9, 1997 – January 4, 1998 Catalogue: Bernice L. Thomas, America’s 5 & 10 Cent Stores: The Kress Legacy Traveling exhibition: November 1998 - Winter 2001 (National Building Museum and the Preservation Press, 1997) Main Street Five-and-Dimes examined the architectural history and significance of the S. H. Kress stores, familiar landmarks on America’s Main Streets throughout most of the twentieth century. The exhibition featured vintage photographs, architectural drawings, and artifacts from the Museum’s permanent collection. Photo: National Building Museum Collection Curator: Alan Z. Aiches
  11. 11. Lying Lightly on the Land Building America’s National Park Roads and Parkways June 6, 1997 – January 11, 1998 Lying Lightly on the Land explored the unique history of America’s national park roads, encouraging visitors to consider how, when, and why they were built. It also demonstrated the social, technological, and environmental factors involved in their development and encouraged informed debate about the future of America’s parks. Guest Curator: Tim Davis, National Park Service
  12. 12. Breaking Through The Creative Engineer February 26 – November 8, 1998 Traveling exhibition: February 1999 - December 2001 Breaking Through explored how creativity is expressed through the work of modern engineers. The exhibition used case studies to provoke reflection about how an engineer can break through the ordinary to create something entirely new. It also encouraged visitors to reevaluate the importance of creative thinking—both for engineering and for the human condition. Photo: Clifford Russell, Jr. Guest Curators: Robert Freidel and Dian Belanger Exhibiton Design: The 1717 Design Group, Inc.
  13. 13. Smart Growth and Choices for Change Exhibition Series April 1999 – March 2001 Traveling exhibition: Fall 2001 - Fall 2002 This four part exhibition series addressed the problems of sprawl and suggested alternative solutions. Where Do We Go From Here? provided an overview of sprawl and the principles of smart growth. (April 20 – September 7, 1999) Reimagining the Suburbs examined specific smart growth approaches in planning suburbs. (October 22, 1999 – March 26, 2000) Reinvigorating Cities explored how to combat the drain of people away from the urban core. (April 19 – September 6, 2000) Metropolitan Perspectives presented metropolitan-wide solutions to sprawl. (October 11, 2000 – March 4, 2001) Curator: Mary Konsoulis Exhibition Design: Chester Design Associates, Inc.
  14. 14. Stay Cool! Air Conditioning America May 1, 1999 – January 2, 2000 Stay Cool! examined the transformative power of air conditioning in America and demonstrated how this defining technology of the 20th century launched new forms of architecture. The exhibition showed how the creation of “man-made weather” altered the way Americans live, work, and play and made many modern conveniences, such as indoor malls, movie theaters, and the modern home possible. Photo: Clifford Russell, Jr. Curators: Donald Albrecht and Chrysanthe B. Broikos Exhibition Design: Pentagram Design Inc.
  15. 15. The Corner Store September 23, 1999 – March 6, 2000 Catalogue: Ellen Beasley, The Corner Store: An American Tradition, Galveston Style (National Building Museum, 1999) The Corner Store revealed the history and impact of this building form on the American landscape and discovered a story of enterprise, ingenuity, and community. The exhibition took place amidst the disappearance of many familiar corner store landmarks, but it suggested that traditional corner store buildings could still find a second life in modern American communities. Photo: Clifford Russell, Jr. Curators: Ellen Beasley, Chrysanthe Broikos, and Elizabeth Opsahl
  16. 16. See the U.S.A. Automobile Travel and the American Landscape November 19, 1999 – May 7, 2000 See the U.S.A. explored the popularity of car travel for many Americans in the twentieth century. The exhibition showed visitors the wide variety of new facilities providing services and amusement that were built in response to these travelers. It featured a number of quirky and extravagant examples of roadside America that were designed to grab the attention of travelers. Curators: John Margolies and Exhibition Design: 1100 Architect Michael R. Harrison
  17. 17. The White House in Miniature March 29 – September 17, 2000 The White House in Miniature presented the decorative and structural changes that two centuries of First Families, architects, engineers, and interior designers have brought to architect James Hoban’s original design. Cosponsored by the White House Historical Association, the exhibition featured an almost exact replica of the real White House made by John Zweifel and remains one of he Photo: Clifford Russell, Jr. Museum’s most popular exhibitions to date. Curator: Pamela Scott Exhibition Design: Research & Design, Ltd.
  18. 18. WOOD An American Tradition September 9, 2000 – April 22, 2001 WOOD: An American Tradition described the four major traditions of building in wood throughout American history: log construction, timber framing, balloon framing, and platform framing. While presenting icons of these four traditions, the exhibition also explained how wood has been the material of choice for construction, household goods, and Photo: Museum staff tools in every facet of American life for almost 400 years. Curators: Michael Harrison and Exhibition Design: Threshold Studio Michael O’Brien
  19. 19. Monuments, Mills, and Missile Sites Thirty Years of the Historic American Engineering Record October 26, 2000 – May 20, 2001 Monuments, Mills, and Missile Sites showcased the legacy of the Historic American Engineering Record: a public archive documenting engineering marvels and industrial icons. The exhibition included examples of technological advances, milestones in engineering, and other commonalities of America’s rich industrial and engineering heritage. Photo: Museum Staff Guest Curator: Laura Greenberg Exhibition Design: Chester Design Associates, Inc.
  20. 20. On the Job Design and the American Office November 18, 2000 – August 19, 2001 Catalogue: Donald Albrecht and Chrysanthe B. Broikos, On the Job: Design and the American Office (Princeton Architectural Press and the National Building Museum, 2000) On the Job examined the evolution of the American office, tracing the past and present of office design into the future of contemporary office space. The exhibition explored both the architecture of offices and the social transformation and cultural progress that occurred there. Photo: Allan Sprecher Curators: Donald Albrecht and Chrysanthe B. Broikos Exhibition Design: Pentagram Design
  21. 21. Twin Towers Remembered Photographs by Camilo José Vergara November 10, 2001 – March 10, 2002 Catalogue: Camilo José Vergara, Twin Towers Remembered Traveling exhibition: April 2002 - Jan 2003 (Princeton Architectural Press and The National Building Museum, 2001). Twin Towers Remembered featured a selection of Camilo José Vergara’s photographs documenting 30 years of the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers, from construction through destruction. His work has been displayed in three other exhibitions at the Museum: • The New American Ghetto (January 26 – May 5, 1996) • El Nuevo Mundo: The Landscape of Latino Los Angeles(December 3, 1998 - March 28, 1999) • Storefront Churches (June 20 – November 29, 2009) The Museum’s current outreach program, Investigating Where We Live, was inspired by Vergara’s work and these exhibitions. Photo: Allan Sprecher Guest Curator: Thomas Mellins
  22. 22. On Track Transit and the American City January 26 – October 27, 2002 On Track mapped the unique relationship between transportation and the American city through three metaphorical places: Expanding City, Suburban City, and Regional City. The exhibition focused primarily on public transportation systems, like rail transit, and their influence on the urban form in the past and the future. Curators: Kathleen Franz and Mary Konsoulis Exhibition Design: Chester Design Associates, Inc.
  23. 23. The Turner City Collection Rendering a Century of Building May 4 – November 3, 2002 In The Turner City Collection, the Museum featured nine drawings made by The Turner Construction Company to document their major projects each year. These projects were depicted together to form a single imaginary city, which was named the Turner City. The Turner City drawings became an annual tradition, and today they are part of the National Building Museum’s Photo: Allan Sprecher permanent collection. Curator: G. Martin Moeller, Jr.
  24. 24. Do It Yourself Home Improvement in 20th-Century America October 19, 2002 – August 10, 2003 Catalogue: Carolyn Goldstein, Do It Yourself: Home Improvement in 20th-Century America (Princeton Architectural Press, 1998) In Do It Yourself, curators examined the 20th-century cultural phenomenon of home improvement in America. The exhibition began with the first “power” tools of the 1870s and 1880s, continued through the midcentury popularity of the American Dream home, and finished with today’s hobby of improving and restoring contemporary and historic housing. Photo: Allan Sprecher Curators: Carolyn Goldstein, Michael R. Harrison, and Exhibition Design: Pentagram Design, Inc. Chrysanthe B. Broikos
  25. 25. Big & Green Toward Sustainable Architecture in the 21st Century January 17 – June 22, 2003 Catalogue: David Gissen, Big & Green: Toward Sustainable Architecture in the Traveling Exhibition: October 2003 – March 2005 21st Century (Princeton Architectural Press, 2003) The curators of Big & Green examined five issues that design and building professionals are addressing in order to reduce the negative environmental impact of skyscrapers. Those issues are energy; light and air; greenery, water, and waste; construction; and urbanism. The exhibition argued that even the largest structures can promote integration and cooperation between the built and natural Photo: Allan Sprecher environments. Curators: David Gissen and Susan Piedmont-Palladino Exhibition Design: James Hicks Exhibition Graphics: Pure+Applied
  26. 26. Saving Mount Vernon The Birth of Preservation in America February 15 – September 21, 2003 Saving Mount Vernon told the story of the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association’s efforts to purchase and preserve George Washington’s beloved Mount Vernon estate as an American icon. Their success inspired other groups around the country to preserve other properties of historic significance, and encouraged the historic preservation movement in America. Curator: Pamela Scott
  27. 27. Picture This Windows on the American Home March 29 – August 11, 2003 In Picture This, Museum curators examined the role of windows in both the architecture and the culture of the American home. The exhibition presented a history of windows in the context of American domestic life, and it also discussed the metaphoric meaning of windows as both ways to see the outside world and ways the world can see inside. Photo: Museum staff Curator: Donald Albrecht Exhibition Design: Matter Practice Historian: Sandy Isenstadt Video: Ben Rubin, EAR Studio, Inc.
  28. 28. Up Down Across Elevators, Escalators, and Moving Sidewalks September 12, 2003 – April 18, 2004 Catalogue: Alisa Goetz, ed., Up, Down, Across: Elevators, Escalators, and Moving Sidewalks (Merrell Publishers, 2003) In Up Down Across, the Museum examined elevators, escalators, and moving sidewalks in their historical and design contexts. The exhibition viewed these devices as mechanical systems, through their diverse uses, as the inspiration for new architectural forms, and through their presentation on film. The curators argued that even though these devices may seem mundane, they have radically transformed our buildings, our cities, Photo: Allan Sprecher and our lives. Curators: Abbott Miller and Alisa Goetz Exhibition Design: Pentagram Design
  29. 29. Masonry Variations October 18, 2003 – April 4, 2004 For Masonry Variations, four teams of architects and craftworkers from the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers (BAC) were invited to stretch their imaginations and push the limits of masonry materials. The teams created full-size constructions of: BRICK: Carlos Jiménez and J. Keith Behrens STONE: Jeanne Gang, AIA, and Matthew Stokes Redabaugh Photo: Allan Sprecher TERRAZZO/TILE: Julie Eizenberg and Mike Menegazzi AUTOCLAVED AERATED CONCRETE (AAC): Winka Dubbledam and Robert Mion Jr. Curators: Stanley Tigerman Exhibition Design: Elizabeth Kaleida with Howard Decker Exhibition Graphics: mgmt. Design
  30. 30. Stories of Home Photographs by Bill Bamberger December 4, 2003 – March 7, 2004 Stories of Home presented a collection of photographs taken by Bill Bamberger that explored the meanings of home and homeownership to a variety of Americans. It was a culmination of “This House is Home,” an initiative organized by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill through its Center for the Study of the American South and Center for Urban and Regional Studies. Curator: Chrysanthe B. Broikos
  31. 31. D.C. Builds The Anacostia Waterfront January 17 – May 23, 2004 D.C. Builds explored the complex story of the Anacostia River’s life as a working river and built environment. The exhibition also looked into current efforts to restore the river as a place of beauty and civic potential. The rediscovery of the Anacostia River reflects a new trend in urban growth across the country to capitalize on once- Photo: Brett Seamans abandoned or abused riverfronts. Curator: Mary Konsoulis Exhibition Design: Pure+Applied
  32. 32. Symphony in Steel Ironworkers and the Walt Disney Concert Hall January 31 – August 22, 2004 Symphony in Steel featured 100 black-and-white photographs of the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, California taken by Gil Garcetti. The photographs celebrate the remarkable achievements of the ironworkers who assembled the steel frame and the finish ironworkers who applied the stainless steel skin to the building. They were drawn from Garcetti’s two books Iron: Erecting the Walt Disney Concert Hall and Frozen Music. Curator: Alan Z. Aiches
  33. 33. Affordable Housing Designing an American Asset February 28 – August 8, 2004 Catalogue: Affordable Housing: Designing an American Asset Traveling Exhibition: March 2005 – November 2007 (Urban Land Institute and National Building Museum, 2005) Through a number of highlighted projects, Affordable Housing demonstrated that low-cost housing does not need to be low quality. The projects featured in the exhibition proved that affordable housing can be durable, environmentally sensitive, comfortable, attractive, and economical to maintain. Photo: Brett Seamans Curators: Ralph Bennett and Isabelle Gournay Exhibition Design: Chester Design Associates
  34. 34. Liquid Stone New Architecture in Concrete June 19, 2004 – April 17, 2005 Catalogue: Jean-Louis Cohen and G. Martin Moeller, Liquid Stone: New Architecture in Concrete (Princeton Architectural Press, 2006) Liquid Stone featured more than three dozen examples of recent projects that utilized concrete technology in sometimes surprising ways. These projects were selected to highlight innovative uses of concrete in a building’s structure, surface, and/or sculptural form, and to suggest possible new directions for the future of concrete in architecture. Photo: Allan Sprecher Curator: G. Martin Moeller, Jr. Exhibition Design: Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects
  35. 35. Tools of the Imagination March 5 – October 10, 2005 Catalogue: Susan Piedmont-Palladino, ed., Tools of the Imagination: Drawing Tools and Technologies from the Eighteenth Century to the Present (Princeton Architectural Press, 2006) From pencils and paper to advanced computer technologies, Tools of the Imagination examined the tools used and results achieved by architects and designers over the past 250 years. It included tools and drawings from Thomas Jefferson to Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, along with those from Frank Lloyd Wright, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, I.M. Pei, Frank Gehry, and others. Photo: Allan Sprecher Curator: Susan Piedmont-Palladino Exhibition Design: Andrew Pettiti, Knowtis Design
  36. 36. The Green House New Directions in Sustainable Architecture and Design May 20, 2006 – June 3, 2007 Catalogue: Alanna Stang and Christopher Hawthorne, The Green House: New Traveling Exhibition: February 2008 – May 2010 (Full Exhibition); Directions in Sustainable Architecture (Princeton Architectural Press, 2005) August 2008 – November 2009 (Panel Exhibition) By focusing on sustainable design and environmentally-friendly materials, The Green House demonstrated that houses and apartments can be green, comfortable, and stylish at the same time. The exhibition showcased an actual modern sustainable house within its galleries: the Glidehouse designed by Michelle Kaufmann in 2004. It challenged visitors to join the “green” Photo: Gretchen Franti/Hoachlander Davis Photography movement by making simple changes in their homes. Curators: Donald Albrecht, Alanna Stang, and Christopher Hawthorne Exhibition Design: Lewis.Tsurumaki.Lewis (LTL) Architects Exhibition Graphics: Pure+Applied
  37. 37. Reinventing the Globe A Shakespearean Theater for the 21st Century January 13 - October 8, 2007 Reinventing the Globe traced the longstanding fascination with William Shakespeare’s Globe Theater and the numerous efforts to evoke the spirit of that structure in subsequent theater designs. The exhibition culminated with five dramatic interpretations of Shakespearean theaters for the 21st century by John Coyne, H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture, Office of Mobile Design, the Rockwell Group, and Michele Saee Studio. Photo: F.T. Eyre Curator: G. Martin Moeller, Jr.
  38. 38. David Macaulay The Art of Drawing Architecture June 23, 2007 - May 4, 2008 David Macaulay featured the drawings of the artist David Macaulay, who is well known for his illustrations that show the way things work. The exhibition focused on the artist’s use of drawing to research historic buildings, to render architecture from engaging perspectives, to reveal underlying structures, and to critique and redesign the contemporary landscape of American architecture. Photo: F.T. Eyre Curators: Kathleen Franz, Chrysanthe B. Broikos Exhibition Design: Malcolm Grear Designers, Inc.
  39. 39. Eero Saarinen Shaping the Future May 3 – August 23, 2008 Catalogue: Eeva-Liisa Pelkonen and Donald Albrecht, eds., Traveling exhibition: October 2006 - May 2010 Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future (Yale University Press, 2006) This exhibition was the first major retrospective of the work of architect Eero Saarinen, designer of iconic works such as the St. Louis Arch and “Tulip” furniture. Saarinen produced a body of work that not only explored the promise of new materials and technologies, but also seemed to capture the uniquely American spirit of optimism during the post-World War II economic boom. The exhibition was organized by the Museum Photo: Peter Cutts along with the Finnish Cultural Institute and the Museum of Finnish Architecture, Helsinki. Curator: Donald Albrecht Exhibition Design: Roy Mänttäri
  40. 40. Green Community October 23, 2008 - October 25, 2009 Catalogue: Susan Piedmont-Palladino and Timothy Mennel, eds., Green Community (APA Planners Press, 2009) Green Community explored how the health of our communities, our planet, and ourselves depend on how we plan, design, and construct the world between our buildings. The exhibition introduced visitors to communities where citizens, political leaders, planning and design professionals, developers, and government agencies are working together for a more sustainable future. Photo: Anne McDonough Curator: Susan Piedmont-Palladino Exhibition Design: Matter Practice Exhibition Graphics: mgmt. Design Exhibition Interactives: Potion
  41. 41. House of Cars: Innovation and the Parking Garage October 17, 2009 - July 11, 2010 House of Cars examined the architecture and development of parking garages in the twentieth century. The exhibition provided examples of well- designed garages that encouraged visitors to see these familiar structures in a whole new way, and to understand the significance of the parking garage to our cities and ourselves. Photo: Anne McDonough Curator: Sarah Leavitt Exhibition Design: Patrick Rogan, Assemble Exhibition Consultant: Shannon Sanders McDonald Exhibition Graphics: Krohn Design