The National Building Museum is easily one of my family’s favorite destinations in DC and it gets even better in the summer. Every summer for the last several years the National Building Museum has hosted an interactive special exhibit.  This year, the exhibit is HIVE, a larger-than-life installation of thousands of interlocking tubes spanning much of the museum’s large lobby and reaching nearly to its soaring ceilings creating three domes, or hives.

HIVE at the National Building Museum

Visitors can walk in the hives to simply stare in awe at how high they go and how they were built.  But, there are other activities in and around the hives.  A favorite with my children was the music area where visitors are invited to explore the hives’ acoustic properties by exploring the sounds made by tubes and other common building materials.  Another dome contains chimes.  My kids also loved building with interlocking discs that are used to build in the same manner used to construct the exhibit.

HIVE at the National Building Museum

Although not as exciting as The Beach exhibit a couple of years ago, my kids (ages 2, 6, and 9) loved Hive.  My six-year-old even put in a request to stay until the museum closed.  Hive is a very kid-friendly exhibit where children are encouraged to explore sound within the structures and can weave in and out of the columns.

HIVE at the National Building Museum

While at the museum, be sure to check out their other kid-friendly exhibits all included with admission, including these three:

  1. The Building Zone, a permanent fixture at the museum, is a large playroom recommended for children six and under and features a large playhouse, train table, construction books and dress-up clothes, a doll house, and more.  Just ask for a timed ticket when you purchase your admission.
  2. Wright on the Walls is a special exhibit closing the same day as Hive that allows visitors to color in outlines of famous Frank Lloyd Wright buildings.  My kids loved this small exhibit.
  3. Play, Work Build is an ongoing special exhibit with several play areas for children, including large blue foam building blocks, an illuminated table for building, and an interactive movement game.

Unlike past years, admission to Hive is included with regular museum admission.  Admission is $16.00 per adult, $13.00 per child three and up, and $5.00 for Blue Star family members.  If you plan on visiting the museum more than once this year, a membership may be a good value for your family.
Admission to Hive is on a first-come, first-served basis.  During our weekday visit there was no wait to get in.

Additional Information

  • Hive is open through September 4, 2017 and you can purchase museum admission online or in person.  Youth ages 13 to 18 can visit the Museum and Hive for free at Teen Night on August 10 from 6 to 9 p.m.
  • Hours are Monday to Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sundays 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • There is limited metered street parking around the Building Museum and it is across the street from the Judiciary Square metro station on the Red Line.  The Gallery Place/Chinatown metro stop is two blocks away.
  • If you want to make a day of your visit to the National Building Museum, there is a Firehook Bakery in the lobby that serves sandwiches, salads, and treats or do as many other families do and bring a lunch to eat at one the museum’s tables or eat picnic-style in the lobby.
  • Look for special events taking place in conjunction with HIVE, such as free concerts on Sundays from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. and BBQ served on the Museum’s lawn on select days.

HIVE at the National Building Museum

Photos by Jamie Davis Smith.

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