It’s time for the Summer Block Party at the National Building Museum, and I can tell you that this one is going to be really FUN! In case you aren’t familiar with the concept, the seasonal event features a major installation in the museum’s Great Hall with special programs and activities for the public to enjoy. Most of the exhibitions have been hugely popular (and literally huge, for that matter) since they began several years ago as well as interesting and interactive.
FUN HOUSE, this year’s installation created by Snarkitecture, easily lives up to its name. In fact, I think it may be the best of NBM’s summer exhibits yet.
Designed to look like a house with a front and back yard, FUN HOUSE is the first Summer Block Party that truly takes advantage of the entire Great Hall. Just about everything within it invites and encourages engagement as it “recalls and re-imagines the idea of the traditional home.” The various environments throughout incorporate other well-known projects by Snarkitecture, but you don’t have to be familiar with them to appreciate and enjoy them.
It starts with the Front Yard, where you can sit on soft “benches” or large letters that spell FUN HOUSE. The walkway into the house looks more like an excavation site than a door, and that’s just the beginning of many neat details and displays you’ll see as you tour the rest of the rooms. Walk through a sea of fabric strips hanging from the ceiling in the Bedroom. The Play Room contains a fantastic, intricate marble run that is sure keep kids (and adults) captivated for awhile. There’s a tub filled with plastic balls in the Bathroom. The Kitchen shelves are stocked with all kinds of cleverly designed pieces. In the Study, you’ll find more works that will make you take a closer look. As you tour, be sure to look up, down, all around, and try to catch views of it from different perspectives to see how it all fits together.
Okay, the reallly fun part is the Backyard — because that’s where you’ll find the pool. Before you come to it, though, you’ll encounter a big stack of outdoor cushions that welcome climbing and moving. You’ll also see the Play House with a cool optical illusion design. And just beyond that is the big kidney-shaped basin filled with those plastic white balls (if you went to THE BEACH, you know the ones), and it’s all as wonderfully enticing as the sparkling blue chlorinated water at the local rec center on a scorching hot DC summer day.
Yes, you can jump in a go for a “swim” at the FUN HOUSE pool, and I highly recommend you do! Just be sure to remove your shoes and hold on tight to your phone because they are easy to lose in there. When you need a break or don’t feel like taking the plunge, there are pool chairs lining the deck as well as a kiddie pool, where little ones can play or you can dip your toes.
There will be couple of special programs and activities to experience FUN HOUSE in different ways. There will be yoga most Sundays; Daybreaker, early morning dance movement on July 6; and Late Night on Wednesdays will special tours, pop-up talks, and food and drinks for purchase from 6-9pm. Note, too, that Hill Country Backyard Barbecue is back on the museum’s West Lawn this summer through mid-September with an expanded menu and a family-friendly atmosphere from Wednesday through Friday, 4–9 pm; Saturday, 12–9pm, and Sunday, 12–6pm.
DC residents should be aware of Ward Days, when they can visit FUN HOUSE with complimentary admission from 9–11am when the ward they live in is invited: July 24 is Ward 1 and Ward 3, July 31 is Ward 7 and Ward 8, August 7 is Ward 2 and Ward 6, and August 14 is Ward 4 and Ward 5. Story time and mobile library book check-out will be offered by DC Public Library on those days, and Community Forklift will be there with a creative construction activity. Reserve your spot here.
Are you ready to jump in? Here’s what you need to know:
Where: National Building Museum | 401 F Street NW
When: July 4 – September 3, 2018
Hours: 10am – 5pm Mon-Sat, 11am – 5pm Sun, 6-9pm Weds
Regular Admission: $16/adult, $13/age 3-17, free for Members
Late Night Admission: $25/adult, $16/youth, $10/adult member, $5/youth member
* Advanced purchase is recommended. Tickets are timed entry and good for one hour in Fun House, which is plenty of time to explore it all. And admission gets you into all of the museum exhibits!
* Museum members get free regular admission and discounted late night admission, so this is a good time to consider a Family Membership