National Building Museum exhibition melds children’s books with architecture

The National Building Museum (Washington, D.C.) opens its landmark new, multigenerational exhibition Building Stories on January 21, 204. Building Stories is a new long-term exhibition that will bring kids and adults alike on an immersive exploration of the world of architecture, engineering, construction, and design found in the pages of children’s books. Occupying 4,000 square feet of prominent exhibition space on the Museum’s ground floor, Building Stories is the most ambitious exhibition ever undertaken by the Museum and will be on display for ten years.

Partnering with curator Leonard Marcus, the nation’s leading expert on children’s literature, and Portland, OR-based exhibition and experiential design studio Plus And Greater ThanBuilding Stories provides a portal into the wonder of the built environment through the imaginative lens of children’s books.

Designed for a multigenerational audience – children, parents, grandparents, and caregivers – with special attention paid to children in grades K-3, Building Stories features beloved children’s classics and modern-day offerings from award winning authors including Sophie BlackallEzra Jack Keats, and Květa Pacovská, among many others. Stories such as Goodnight MoonWinnie-the-PoohThe Snowy Day, EloiseThe Phantom TollboothThe Hobbit, Rome AnticsHarold and the Purple Crayon, Last Stop on Market Street, and Here We Are, among hundreds of other titles, help children establish their place in the world, starting with the concept of home, in all its forms.

“We are ecstatic to open Building Stories to the public after many years of planning,” said Aileen Fuchs, president and executive director of the National Building Museum. “Building Stories celebrates the impact that children’s literature has had on all of us, and how it has helped us find our place in the world. Like books do, we hope the exhibition will transport visitors to new places and spark curiosity and thoughtful conversation about the built environment and how we can all be agents of change for a more sustainable and equitable future.”

“Your Home, My Home" encourages
visitors to reflect on what the idea of
“home” means to them and to others.
A theater experience immerses guests into the worlds of several
beloved stories.
“Your Home, My Home” encourages visitors to reflect on what the idea of “home” means to them and to others. A theater experience immerses guests into the worlds of several beloved stories. Rendering courtesy Plus & Greater Than / National Building Museum.

In the exhibition visitors will encounter familiar classics and new favorites through hands-on activities, media installations, sketching, reading, and building stories of their own. Award-winning author/illustrators David Macaulay and Oliver Jeffers have collaborated with the Museum to create original environments within the exhibition. Macaulay’s space will offer insight into his creative process and allow visitors to better understand the worlds created in books, while Jeffer’s concluding installation encourages us all to engage in making the world a better place.

In celebration of the exhibition opening, the Museum will host a FREE community day on Sunday, January 21, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.


The National Building Museum inspires curiosity about the world we design and build. We believe that understanding the impact of architecture, engineering, landscape architecture, construction, planning, and design is important for everyone. Through exhibitions, educational programs, and special events, we welcome visitors of all ages to experience stories about the built world and its power to shape our lives, our communities, and our futures.

Public inquiries: 202.272.2448,, or visit

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