On my arrival day in DC, after a mad week trying to get everything ready for The Big Trip and a very late night packing the night before, I only had energy for a small dose of sightseeing. I spent a few hours at the National Building Museum, which I'd heard was pretty small and, therefore, I figured, just about as much as I could manage. I'd been interested in visiting the museum for some time, as it appeals to my curiosity for design, architecture, and engineering. Today I was also particularly attracted to a current exhibit on Designing for Disaster, which was quite good, if somewhat small.
Given my pace and the time available, I pretty much read and engaged every single bit of the exhibit from beginning to end. Some fascinating stuff in there about: how and why buildings collapse in earthquakes and how to design for it; how wind forces act on structures in hurricanes and tornadoes, and how preparedness/warnings and design solutions work together to save lives; how our knowledge of fires has evolved from trying to suppress all "forest fires", to learning how to work with instead of against natural fire processes and focus on preventing "wildfires" (language change included); and how floods, the biggest natural disaster threat in the US, can be managed to mitigate destruction. One particularly great interactive display allows you to test different roof designs and house orientations against a pretty powerful wind machine.
I also visited a display called Cool and Collected, which shows a rotating selection of the museum's full collection of building/architecture/design-related items, and then the permanent display House and Home, exploring the evolution of the concept of "home" in American history.
Unfortunately, photography was not allowed in the exhibits, so I wasn't able to get a picture of the GE rolling-dial "digital" clock radio among the items in the House and Home exhibit. Seeing the clock radio that I used from grade school through high school on display in a museum made me feel a bit like a historical artifact myself, I have to admit...
Photographs were allowed in the bulding's open spaces, so I leave you with a few details of the breathtakingly grand interior of the museum (once the home of the US Pension Bureau):