Canadian Architect


Animals, Collected

April 20 - March 01, 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C.— On April 20, 2019, the National Building Museum opens Animals, Collected, a new exhibition featuring architectural objects depicting animals, all drawn from the permanent collection. Imagined as a cabinet of curiosities, Animals, Collected presents two- and three-dimensional materials that encourage closer inspection of the buildings we see every day. With over 125 objects—many of which have never been displayed publicly—Animals, Collected is open through spring 2020.

As ornament on municipal buildings and monuments, churches and warehouses, animals have appeared on structures and statues across time, geography, and function. The exhibition is organized by animal habitat, where groupings will illuminate different phases of the design and construction process. Although the methods have changed over time, artifacts such as these emphasize the imagination, artistry, and the tools required to create and document the built environment.

The National Building Museum permanent collection holds over 250,000 objects related to the building arts, the vast majority of which are rarely exhibited. Animals, Collected features objects from a range of collections, including:

More than fifty different species of animals are featured on drawings, photographs, models, building materials, and tools. Depictions of animals have been used as shorthand for ideas, individuals, and character traits for thousands of years, all over the globe. Sometimes overlooked in plain sight, architects and artists have chosen these creatures for a reason. Animals, Collected will explore some of that history and symbolism, while giving a behind-the-scenes look at how buildings are designed.

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