Published On: Sun, Aug 2nd, 2015

Going To “The Beach” That Has No Water at the National Building Museum

The National Building Museum has one of the more fascinating exhibits I’ve seen. It’s called The Beach, but there’s no water. Instead, it’s 10,000 square feet of space filled with one million recyclable translucent plastic balls.

The National Building Museum presents a one-of-a-kind destination for visitors, an interactive architectural installation that brings the quintessential summer experience of going to the beach to downtown Washington, D.C. Spanning across the Museum’s Great Hall, the BEACH, created in partnership with Snarkitecture, will cover 10,000 square feet and include an “ocean” of nearly one million recyclable translucent plastic balls.

Tickets include admission to exhibitions. Admission is first come, first served (no timed entry). Visit our Admissions page for more ticketing information.

The BEACH is contained within an enclosure and built out of construction materials such as scaffolding, wooden panels, and perforated mesh, all clad in stark white. Monochromatic beach chairs and umbrellas sprinkle the 50-foot wide “shoreline,” and the “ocean” culminates in a mirrored wall that creates a seemingly infinite reflected expanse. Visitors are welcome to “swim” in the ocean, or can spend an afternoon at the “shore’s” edge reading a good book, play beach-related activities such as paddleball, grab a refreshing drink at the snack bar, or dangle their feet in the ocean off the pier.

When we first got there, there was a line. And I hate lines. Apparently, Najwa does, too, so while I stood in line, inching one step at a time closer to the entrance, Najwa got to play.

National Building Museum
National Building Museum
National Building Museum
The view from line.

Finally, we made it. Though the time it took is shorter than driving to the ocean, it sure felt like it. For me anyway. And when we finally entered The Beach, it became obvious why it took so long. It was crowded!

National Building Museum - The Beach
National Building Museum - The Beach
National Building Museum - The Beach

Like a pool at a resort near the beach, this one also had a shallow and deep end. Though it wasn’t water, Najwa wasn’t interested in jumping into the deep end. She’s still short and weather your head is beneath the water or buried in a few thousand balls, it’s not fun.

National Building Museum - The Beach
The Beach - National Building Museum
The Beach - National Building Museum
The Beach - National Building Museum
National Building Museum - The Beach
National Building Museum - The Beach
National Building Museum - The Beach

It was time to take a break, so we headed upstairs where Najwa likes the Play Work Build play area.

National Building Museum - Play. Work. Build.
National Building Museum - Play. Work. Build.
National Building Museum - Play. Work. Build.

Who’d’ve thought you could go to the beach without leaving the nation’s capital? It was fun. Sure wish this was an annual event.

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About the Author

David Gaines

- David Gaines is a Washington, DC, resident transplanted from North Carolina whose dream career was a newspaper writer but settled for the recruiting industry and simply blogging about whatever thoughts crosses his mind.



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