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Fictional architecture comes to life at Washington DC’s ‘Building Stories’ exhibition

The National Building Museum in DC has turned to the pages of children’s story books for its interactive new show, which brings architectural elements and engineered structures from authors’ imaginations to life.

Building Stories is curated by Leonard Marcus, a national expert on English-language children’s literature, and took six years from concept to creation, bringing together 150 books aimed at young readers that have be

en published in the last 200 years. According to the curatorial team, the hope is to draw parallels between the act of designing space and constructing a story – as well as, of course, engage visitors of all ages in the joy of reading.

Building Stories spans four galleries, starting with the ways shapes and words are building blocks of language and environments, and journeying through ideas of home, perceptions of the world around us and, finally, an optimistic look at how children can shape that world themselves.

The "Wider World" gallery features a decorative mural by Oliver Jeffers
Pictured: the “Wider World” gallery in Building Stories. Photography: Elman Studio

Award-winning author/illustrators David Macaulay and Oliver Jeffers collaborated on the immersive exhibition to create original environments and pop-up sets that offer insight into their creative processes. Highlights include a trio of Three Little Pigs archways, a ‘magic portal’ tunnel and plenty of reading nooks – and books to take to them.

Building Stories is the National Building Museum’s most complex and ambitious display to date and will be on show in DC for the next decade.
nmb.org

Pictured: the “Your Home, My Home” gallery in Building Stories, a curving space illuminated with shadow puppets. Photography: Elman Studio
Pictured: the “Your Home, My Home” gallery in Building Stories. Photography: Elman Studio
Pictured: the “Building Readers” gallery in Building Stories. Photography: Elman Studio

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