Words By Nicolla Etzion, Photos By Jeff Martin
2017’s most Instragamable art exhibit in D.C. since Infinity Mirrors opens in July.
The National Building Museum will reveal its summer interactive installation next week. With the main structure skyrocketing some 60 feet to the fourth floor, Hive is the artist’s play on the structure of a honeycomb. The towering installation is the museum’s latest summer pop-up exhibit.
Hive is still under construction with much to be done before its Tuesday, July 4 public opening. The three month long installation needs to go up and come down quickly, but must also be structurally sound and able to withstand the inevitable surge of visitors next week.
Hive was born from an open invitation from The National Building Museum for Jeanne Gang and Studio Gang to create in their space. The museum sought out Studio Gang for its unique textural and interactive urban design. Looking at the installation, an enormous, silver and pink geometric bee hive is striking against the golden columns and ornate interior of the museum. The artists designed the bright magenta interior to add a new color and texture to the museums pallet, while the silver creates a modern structure that embraces the movement of light. Natural light bounces off, over, and through the structure creating dramatic hues and unique shadows throughout the day.
The installation is constructed from basic building materials – as are many of the museum’s exhibits – and upholds the theme of the National Building Museum. Hive is constructed completely of recyclables, like paper tubes used for pouring concrete, standard PVC piping, and other common materials. The tubes, which have slits cut into the top and bottom, fit into each other to create a lightweight but self supporting dome structure. But hive-like architecture isn’t the only point of reference – the buzz, movement, and interaction of people are supposed to create the idea of bees in a hive, drawing back to the community aspect of these installations and seeing how people interact in communal spaces. From the outside, Hive looks like an enclosed structure, but upon entering the interior opens up to a colorful, unbelievably airy space.
The museum also commissioned acoustic engineer John Tewksbury and percussionist Steve Bloom to create playable percussions and chimes in the smaller hives. These amplify the acoustic quality of the smaller hives, whose structures are meant to mimic a forest clearing in the way sound bounces from space to space. Using paper tubing as well as PVC piping and empty fire extinguishers, these artists created dynamic and approachable instruments to keep visitors engaged . Hands on activities outside the instillation let kids create their own “hives” that mimic the slit technique used on the installation
The National Building Museum will also plans to open up the installation for special events. You can get tickets to Hives late nights on Wednesdays 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., where local musicians will be featured inside the installation, as well as drinks and food by Hill Country’s Backyard Barbecue out on the lawn. There will also be activities like Interactive Sound Experiences on Select Saturdays and concerts on Sunday.
The museum will also be hosting a Daybreaker party in this new installation on July 7. It is a 3 hour event beginning at 6 a.m. with yoga and continuing into an early morning dance party. Come for the yoga in this serene space or just go wild and dance your heart out before the daily D.C. grind. Get your tickets here.
Tickets for Hive are $16 for adults, $13 for students and seniors and free with museum membership. Even the ticket desk is made of tubes.
Once you’ve seen all Hive has to offer check out the other galleries in the museum including the Wright on the Walls exhibit where you can color in graphic coloring book style images of some of frank Lloyd Wright’s most famous work.