The National Building Museum’s Summer Block Party has become a much anticipated seasonal event. Showcasing a major installation in the Great Hall with special programs and activities for the public to enjoy, the exhibitions are interesting, interactive, and always Instagram-worthy.
Indoor mini golf kicked off the summer installation trend. Then it was the Big Maze. The BEACH had just about everyone in DC jumping in for some fun. And last year, ICEBERGS brought its own cool aesthetic.
This year, the NBM will be buzzing with HIVE. The massive installation designed by Studio Gang is constructed from more than 2,700 wound paper tubes, a material that is recyclable, lightweight, and renewable. Three chambers of different sizes, a very large one flanked by two smaller, are open for visitors to “explore how a structure can modify and reflect sound, light, scale, and human interaction.” It’s a striking sight — the tallest chamber reaches 48 feet, and the sci-fi looking structures juxtaposed with the museum’s stately Great Hall is at once beautiful and kind of bizarre.
Inside, it’s interesting to examine the tubes, note how they fit together, and look up to see the details of the museum’s top level beyond the oculus. The smaller chambers feature interactive elements that all ages, particularly kids, will enjoy. In one, several sets of chimes with strings hanging down let you “ring” them to hear their varying tones reverberate in the space.
In the other, a sound-machine that I heard one guest describe as something out of a Dr. Seuss book, is constructed of pipes, tubes, and other building materials to be used as instruments. Soft paddles are available to “drum” on open ends of pipes and tubes to create “music” and listen to the sounds they make.
One of my favorite ways to take in the installation was from the upper floors. A bird’s eye view of structures below lets you enjoy the colors in a new way. The tubes are painted gray on the outside and magenta within — the color was inspired by all the pink hats in the Women’s March, a detail that I adore — and it all seems to glow when you look down on it from above.
There will be special programs and activities to experience HIVE in different ways. Lectures, yoga, drum circles take place throughout the summer — find details here. Free concerts on Sundays from 2-3pm welcome all ages. And Late Night on Wednesdays will feature musical performances, drinks, and food from Hill Country’s Backyard Barbecue 6-9pm.
DC residents should be aware of Ward Days, when they can visit Hive with complimentary admission from 9–11am when the ward they live in is invited: July 18 is Ward 3 and Ward 8, July 25 is Ward 1 and Ward 6, August 1 is Ward 4 and Ward 2, August 8 is Ward 5 and Ward 7. Story time and mobile library book check-out will be offered by DC Public Library on those days.
HIVE opens at the National Building Museum on July 4 (UPDATE: Due to construction, it will now open July 6) and runs through September 4. Hours are 10am -5pm daily, with Late Night for all ages on Wednesdays 6-9pm. Admission is $16/adult, $13/youth/student with ID/senior, $5/Blue Star ages 3 and up with ID (limit 6 per family). And the entry fee includes admission to all other museum exhibits!