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broodings from the burrow

July 31, 2019

posted by soe 1:19 am

Rudi on the Lawn

Every summer, the National Building Museum turns the main hall of its massive Renaissance Revival-era into an interactive seasonal installation. Rudi and I have never managed to get to it, but this morning the museum waived the admission charge for residents in our ward (D.C. is divided into eight of them of roughly equal population) and we decided to check it out.

It was hard work.

Putting My Feet Up

While previous installations have included ball pit beaches and musical tube beehives, among others, this year the theme is Lawn.

Lawn at the Building Museum

Built onto scaffolding located between the first and third floors, the Astro-turf lawn slopes from the top, home to bean bag tosses and a “swimming pool” of sorts, to a mid-level plateau with Adirondack chairs, and down a steep hill full of children rolling and running and shouting. Dangling over the top two levels are dozens of hammocks into which the soothing stories of celebrities’ summers past are piped. Because the main hall soars four stories in the air, you manage to pick up the hint of a breeze as you lie there with your feet up and your eyes closed. Adding to the illusion of being outdoors are the ambient noises emitting around the floor — lawn mowers, crickets chirping, children shrieking from afar.


It was very well done, and I’d say that if you have a few hours to spend, it’s worth the expense, particularly if, like us, you lack your own personal lawn.


Our visit also included the cost of visiting the other exhibitions, so we took in collections about how homes have changed over the U.S.’s history, animals in architectural details, and building blocks (the National Building Museum is a family-friendly destination). My two favorites were the photo exhibition about basketball hoops around the world and how they tell a universal, yet highly local, story (note to my parents, I was not the only person to take out a garage window with a basketball) and Flickering Treasures, a story about Baltimore’s movie and neighborhood theaters through time. While 240 theaters called Maryland’s most famous city home, they are down to five currently in operation (up from three a couple years ago). It was a fascinating story about segregation, modernization, and localization (they had fewer studio-run theaters than most cities of comparable size).

Rudi in the Baltimore Movie Theater Exhibition at the National Building Museum

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