AT DC: Shopping at the Building Museum

  • Location: Washington, DC and online
  • Website:

We got a lot of posts from our Boston/DC applicants (3 from each), and we got behind. We're going to rip through the last ones today and tomorrow. This is from our DC finalist, Hilary. Comment away!

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I always go to the gift shop, even at the smallest historic house.

And since one of the best museum stores in DC is also one of the best design resources, I’ll admit that I am happy for any excuse to go to the Building Museum...

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Located at Judiciary Square on the Red Line, the Building Museum hosts exhibits (the popular Green House), lectures, and events on design and architecture. The shop entrance is tucked away in the corner of the enormous main hall, but the store is surprisingly large.

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The shop is divided between books and design products. Currently, the center book display capitalizes on the green trend, with a wide range of books on greening your home (Guide to Green Housekeeping for $19.95), green design (Women in Green for $24.95), and living green (Chelsea Green’s useful series of little paperbacks includes Water for $7.95).

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The other offerings range from beautiful books on gardens to quirky histories of the toilet, and of course, Apartment Therapy! There are sections devoted to color, decorating, small space living, lofts, and international styles. Each shelf offers a well-defined and well-edited selection. There’s also a magazine rack, located near the temptations of the sales shelf.

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Although the shop has some online offerings, the real thing is far more fun. From prints by Colin Winterbottom to architectural-themed magnets, it would be hard not to find something. Normann Copenhagen egg slicers ($24.95) are across from disposable Bambu picnic plates ($7.50) and a banana-shaped silicone pot grip ($9.00).

In the past, I’ve bought a duct-tape wallet, the AIA’s Guide to the Architecture of Washington DC, and Twentieth-Century Pattern Design. This time, I kept looking up. On my next visit, I may have to finally buy one of the mobiles.

>> Building Museum

>> The Green House

>> Guide to Green Housekeeping

>> Women in Green

>> Water

>> Shop

AIA Guide

>> Twentieth-Century Pattern Design

>> Sheep mobile

- Hilary

(Thanks, Hilary!)

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Maxwell left teaching in 2001 to start Apartment Therapy as a design business helping people to make their homes more beautiful, organized AND healthy. The website started up in 2004 with the help of his brother, Oliver.