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The National Building Museum Launches Virtual Exhibition 06.18.2002

June 18, 2002
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“Building America” Web site launched.

The National Building Museum has launched a new virtual exhibition, Building America. The comprehensive and periodically updated site will be accessible through the World Wide Web. It will significantly augment the museum's main site, www.nbm.org, which also has been re-designed and expanded. Building America will be capable of reaching a national and global audience, dramatically expanding the Museum's reach as it provides "virtual visitors" with the opportunity to enjoy a visually and intellectually rich experience without ever leaving home.

Building America explores the broad scope of American achievement in architecture, engineering, construction, planning, design, and landscape architecture. It aims to be nothing less than a leading and authoritative online resource focusing on the nation's built environment. Aimed at both the layperson and the professional, the site is visually compelling and easy to use. It addresses more than 150 topics and includes more than 600 color illustrations - photographs, drawings, and computer-generated images. The heavily illustrated site also includes video clips, audio components, and interactive programs for all ages.

Eleven thematically organized time lines pinpoint important events and developments in American building, chronologically documenting the evolution of a broad range of building and planning types, from houses to skyscrapers, the corner store to the United States Capitol, and dams and highways to historic New England towns and contemporary suburbs. The time lines are divided into four categories, reflecting the organization of a forthcoming permanent exhibition, also titled Building America, which the Museum will open to the public incrementally beginning in 2004. The categories are: House and Home, Commerce and Community, Land and Landscape, and Connecting the Continent.

On the Web site, illustrated essays allow the user to delve deeper into a topic, exploring pivotal forces that have affected American architecture and building, from a single visionary individual, such as Frank Lloyd Wright, to the sweeping ramifications of the nation's love affair with the automobile.

Throughout the site, the built environment will be used as a lens to view broad topics and issues in American life. Serving as a conceptual foundation are seven themes that in part define our national character and experience, as well as the country's built environment: "bigness," enterprise, community, mobility, innovations, conflict, and freedom. While the site proudly surveys American achievement, it does not shy away from controversy and societal shortcomings: the shame of segregation, the blight of suburban sprawl, the urgent need to further develop and utilize sustainable and "green" architecture. The site is intended to be comprehensive, authoritative, thought-provoking and educative.

Building America is made possible by The Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities, expanding our understanding of the world. Leadership support has been provided by the National Building Museum's Trustees.

The Museum's newly redesigned Web site features information about exhibitions, upcoming events, educational programs and resources, and the new on-line shop featuring products from our acclaimed Museum Shop. Online lecture and program registration will be available soon.

The National Building Museum, created by an act of Congress in 1980, is a private, non-profit institution that examines the world Americans have built for themselves through exhibitions, education programs, and publications.

The Museum is located at 401 F Street NW, Washington, D.C. Museum hours are Monday through Saturday, 10 am to 5 pm and Sunday from 11am to 5 pm. Admission is free.

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