DC art exhibit at National Building Museum creates social media buzz

- One of D.C.’s most unique spaces is now home to its fourth large-scale summer exhibit, Hive.

The modern-like sculpture is comprised of 2,551 wound paper tubes and sits in the neo-classical setting of the National Building Museum in Northwest D.C.

Made of re-purposed material, this brainchild of Chicago architecture practice Studio Gang presents a highly unusual use of an industrial product: cardboard tubes used for pouring concrete – some of them weighing in at 200 lbs. – that interlock to form the shapes of bee hives.

“These installations make us think about this space in a different way,” Chase Rynd, president and executive director of the museum said. “We want something that is surprising. Unexpected. Has that wow factor.”

And visitors can’t help but look up.

The tallest structure yet at the museum, Hive reaches 56.5 feet at its highest point and, though engineered precisely, the design is consistently inconsistent. 

Some of the tubes have fallen in on each other due to gravity and weight differences, but according to Rynd, that only further stabilizes the structure.

As light moves through the building throughout the day, the sun casts a unique glow through the cylinders, augmented by silver and magenta colors added for effect.

National Building Museum certainly reaches new heights with Hive and fulfills its intent to not just preserve and conserve material, but offer an interactive experience for the visitor.

“Part of our mission is to open up minds to things you haven’t known about,” Rynd said.

If you plan to visit Hive, here are some things to note: admission is first come, first served, and there is no timed entry. 

Tickets are $16 for adults and $13 for youth/student/seniors but free for National Building Museum members, click here to get yours.

Visitors can experience Hive after-hours with live music, drinks and food on Wednesdays from 6 to 9 p.m. – tickets for these nights and other special programs are sold separately from general admission.

Hive Late Night on Wednesday, August 23, is free for teachers and school administrators with registration.

The exhibit runs through September 4.

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