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The museum is looking for a new space in DC, as well as outside of the District. Photo courtesy Crime Museum.

Citing a tough downtown real estate market, Janine Vaccarello, the Crime Museum's chief operating officer, announced the museum will close its doors on September 30.

"The Crime Museum’s landlord has decided to execute their rights under the lease agreement and request that we vacate the premises," Vaccarello emailed members of the Washington Area Concierge Association on Saturday. In her email, she stated the museum will close on October 1; the museum's website cites September 30 as its closing date.

She wrote the museum is looking for a new space--in DC, as well as outside of the District. However, since its landlord requested a "strict vacate timeline," the museum will be closed for an indefinite period of time.

In the mean time, fans will still have access to specific programs, such as assassinations walking tours, traveling forensics educational programs, and off-site team building.

The news was also announced on the museum's website.

Washingtonian has reached out to Vaccarello and the Crime Museum for comment.

Posted at 09:44 AM/ET, 08/31/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
They've got big plans for those plastic balls. By Emily Codik
Rejoice! The plastic balls will live on. Photo by Lauren Joseph.

You have until September 7 to visit the National Building Museum's all-white ballpit exhibition, "The Beach." If you don't make it over there in time, don't fret. You'll soon have the chance to see some of its plastic balls elsewhere--only they'll be part of a completely new project.

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Posted at 12:27 PM/ET, 08/26/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Just think about how many quarters are down there. Photograph by Lauren Joseph.

So many people are clamoring to visit the National Building Museum's "Beach" exhibit before it closes that the museum will stop selling advance tickets on its website next Friday. The exhibit, which simulates a shoreline with a sloping, sandy-feeling carpet, deck chairs, and—most notably—a pool filled with 1 million polyethylene balls, has brought in more foot traffic than any exhibit in the musuem's recent history.

Created by Brooklyn-based design firm Snarkitecture, the "Beach" has had about 110,000 visitors since it opened July 4, says Brett Rodgers, the Building Museum's communications director. By comparision, last summer's marquee installation, a giant maze by the Dutch architect Bjarke Ingels, sold 50,000 tickets between July 4 and Labor Day.

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Posted at 11:35 AM/ET, 08/14/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Photograph courtesy The Daily Show With Jon Stewart.

Daily Show fans who aren't ready to embrace the Trevor Noah era will be able to find salvation at the Newseum. The museum announced Wednesday that it will take possession of the set used by current Daily Show host Jon Stewart, who hosts his last episode of the satirical program on Thursday.

"We are thrilled to accept the donation of these artifacts to the Newseum collection," Cathy Trost, the Newseum's senior vice presidents of exhibits, says in a press release. "They are part of America’s cultural and media history, telling an important story about how political satire and news as humor made the Daily Show a trusted news source for a generation."

The Newseum describes Stewart, who was born in 1962 at the tail end of the Baby Boomer generation, as "the Walter Cronkite of the millennial generation." (Noah, 31, actually qualifies as a millennial according to most demographers.)

Stewart's 16-year run on the Daily Show included several moments that upended Washington's media establishment, from an appearance on CNN's Crossfire that played an instrumental role in that program's cancellation to the countless embeddable Daily Show clips that websites like the Huffington Post and Vox use to pad their traffic. Stewart's retirement comes perhaps when his talents are needed most: his final broadcast will air just minutes after the first Republican presidential debate, featuring front-runner "Fuckface von Clownstick," better known as litigious hotelier Donald Trump.

The Newseum has dabbled in fake news before, including a year-long exhibition of props from the film Anchorman. Newseum spokesman Jonathan Thompson says there is no date yet for when Stewart's desk will go on display.

Posted at 05:06 PM/ET, 08/05/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Photograph by Lauren Joseph.

Since Washingtonian first visited the National Building Museum's "Beach" exhibit, one of the most frequent concerns of readers contemplating a visit is how the museum prevents the exhibit—which includes an "ocean" of 1 million plastic balls—from turning into a cesspool worthy of Chuck E. Cheese's.

"Sounds fun! Also sounds likes kids will get sick right after visiting too unfortunately," one Facebook user wrote.

"Eventually the balls in the pitt are going to go everywhere and get all yucky," reads one of the comments on the original "Beach" article. "That is why my family and I are going the day it opens."

But according to Snarkitecture, the New York design firm behind the ridiculous exhibit, "The Beach" is much more sanitary than the preferred birthday-party venue of suburban seven-year-olds. The balls are made from an antimicrobial polyethylene sold under the brand name GermBlock. The manufacturer, North Carolina-based 21st Century Products, claims the material repels more than 50 common organisms, including salmonella and E. coli.

"It kills germs," says Ben Porto, a senior associate at Snarkitecture. "It’s like using Purel."

While Porto repeats 21st Century Products's claim that the balls' antimicrobial quality won't wear off over the life of the exhibit—it's open through Labor Day—the Building Museum does do "spot cleaning" of the balls when necessary. The exhibit is also sprayed down with a cleaning agent every morning before it opens.

Posted at 11:28 AM/ET, 07/22/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Photograph by Lauren Joseph.

It didn't take long for a preview of the National Building Museum's new "Beach" exhibit to become one of Washingtonian's most instantly successful posts, presumably because everyone is excited by the prospect of bouncing around a giant ball pit for adults. But in case you haven't had your fill of "The Beach," the museum has released a time-lapse video of the exhibit's construction, filling with 1 million polyethylene balls, and opening day.

The exhibit runs through September 7; open 10 AM to 5 PM Monday to Saturday, and 11 AM to 5 PM Sunday. Admission $5-16.

Posted at 11:31 AM/ET, 07/10/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Photographs by Lauren Joseph.

Every summer, the National Building Museum gives over its atrium to a large, interactive, stunt-y exhibit. In 2012 and 2013, it was mini-golf. Last year brought a maze designed by the Danish architect Bjarke Ingels. This year's, though, has all of them beat.

"The Beach" brings museum visitors a wading pool filled with 1 million translucent polyethelene balls and a carpeted deck inside a 10,000-square-foot enclosure parked in on the museum's main floor. No swimsuits are needed—in fact, museum patrons can and should stay fully clothed—but this "Beach" might be the next-best thing after packing up the car, suffering through Bay Bridge traffic, and fighting for a spot to lay down a blanket on some Eastern Shore coastline.

The exhibit is the work of Snarkitecture, an experimental design firm behind other outlandish projects like "Lift," a performance-art piece at the New Musuem in New York, and some of the public art installations at Marlins Park in Miami.

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Posted at 03:08 PM/ET, 07/02/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
There's 45,000 square feet of new exhibition space. By Emily Codik
The global era section of the "American Enterprise" exhibit documents the time period between the 1980s and 2010s. All photos courtesy of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

You've probably already seen the ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz and Julia Child's adorable kitchen at the National Museum of American History. Soon there'll be a ton of new stuff to check out. On July 1, the museum unveils 45,000 square feet of newly renovated space--a monument to American enterprise and innovation housed on the west wing's first floor.

Ralph Baer's workshop--home to the first video game--is perhaps the greatest attraction. There's also interactive games that put you in the shoes of an American farmer or entrepreuneur, facing difficult choices, such as whether to farm organic or non-organic milk, or switch to a greener, more expensive form of manufacturing. Here's a preview of what you can expect when you go.

“Places of Invention” exhibit entrance in the Jerome and Dorothy Lemelson Hall of Invention. Locations featured in the exhibit include the Bronx, home of hip-hop, and Silicon Valley, birthplace of the personal computer.
“Farming Challenge” interactive within the “American Enterprise” exhibit’s Wallace H. Coulter Exchange Room. Pick which crops and methods to use, and find out how you would fare as a farmer.
The debut of the Fordson tractor in the 1920s marked the end of horse-drawn farming equipment. Here, it looms over traditional farming practices in the “American Enterprise” exhibit.
One of several interactives within the "American Enterprise" exhibit. Spin a wheel and try to get to the top of the "Tower of Power."
“Mr. Peanut” and other advertising spokesmen are featured in the “American Enterprise” exhibit.
The personal workshop of Ralph Baer, considered the “Father of the Video Game.”

Posted at 12:06 PM/ET, 06/30/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Nat Geo's Adventurer of the Year comes to Washington on June 3 and 4. By John Scarpinato
Tommy Caldwell speaks at National Geographic Live in early June. Photo by Corey Rich, courtesy of National Geographic.

Tommy Caldwell made history this January when he and Kevin Jorgeson successfully free-climbed the Dawn Wall--a treacherous, 3,000-foot section of the rock called El Capitan at Yosemite National Park. They only used their hands and feet, with ropes as their safety. Previously considered impossible, the feat made national headlines; President Obama even sent his congratulations.

Caldwell comes to National Geographic Live on June 3 and 4 to talk about his experience, using videos and pictures captured during the ascent. Both shows are sold out, so Washingtonian got ahold of him to talk the Dawn Wall, the climbing life, and the death of Dean Potter.

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Posted at 09:57 AM/ET, 05/27/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
See paintings, photographs, and videos of your favorite celebrities. By John Scarpinato
Serena Williams, photographed by Rick Chapman. Courtesy the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution.

At the National Portrait Gallery’s new exhibit “Eye Pop: The Celebrity Gaze,” opening May 22, portraiture is presented as an intimate experience, both for the artist and the subject. The show's 54 portraits examine the relationship between the celebrity, the artist, and the audience. “There’s always something you can learn about who’s looking at who, how they are looking, and how we as an audience feel about that looking,” says Kim Sajet, director of the museum.

Museum-goers get to see celebrities--like Serena Williams, Brad Pitt, and Oprah Winfrey--in unexpected ways: Athletes outside of the arena, dancers standing still, and actors stripped of their costumes, revealing their vulnerabilities, as well as a glimpse into their personal lives. Here’s what you can expect to see at the show.

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Posted at 12:43 PM/ET, 05/21/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()