Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Mini-golf at the Building Museum: fun out of the sun

Yesterday I got a neat opportunity - to try out the National Building Museum's new indoor mini-golf course. The course, open until Labor Day, has a dozen holes designed by various architects, and was a lot of fun.

Fitting the museum's mission to educate people about architecture and buildings, the architects try a lot of different things: holes range from easy and straight-forward to difficult and beautiful, and are made of various materials: wood, metal, fabric, and concrete. And while it's not free ($5 if you're just playing minigolf, or $3 with a full-priced museum admission, which range from $3 to $8) and it's outside the neighborhood, it's a great way to stay out of the sun and enjoy a really cool museum. 

If you haven't been, the building itself is really impressive (see below), there's a huge interior hall with giant pillars and lots of windows and ornate details. The building was built to house the Pension Bureau after the Civil War and was used after that for various Federal offices. It fell into disrepair before being refurbished and reopened.

So how about the course? Some holes directly reference DC, like one with little channels over a map of the Monumental Core area (Lincoln, Washington, White House, etc) while some are much more experimental and don't resemble a building at all. Some of the holes reflect their builders too -- landscape architects built a streetscape, while event architecture and catering companies built a little outdoor meal. My favorites were an exaggerated topographic map of the Potomac built with wood blocks, a big, simple concrete swirl, and a kind of half-pipe decorated with drawings by 18th century Italian artist Giovanni Piranesi. There's also a lot of nice murals on the walls of various architecture, both in DC and around the world (or non-existent, like the Tower of Babel.) Take a look at photos we took here, and go check it out!

National Building Museum

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