The National Building Museum’s FREE Hands-on Family Festival

The National Building Museum’s FREE Hands-on Family Festival

Saturday, October 14, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. families are invited to be builders for the day at the National Building Museum’s The Big Build.

This FREE hands-on festival provides opportunities for kids and adults to build, design and construct side-by-side with roofers, plumbers, engineers, designers and artisans while celebrating the world we design and build.

A one-of-a-kind event, The Big Build introduces kids and adults to a wide range of building skills while inspiring curiosity about how we all play a role in planning, creating, constructing and improving the places where we live, work and play.


From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Museum’s Great Hall will be filled with dozens of exhibitors ranging from engineering firms to construction companies including DPR Construction, HITT Contracting Inc., the Professional Remodeling Organization (PRO) Mid Atlantic, and The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company. Don a hard hat from Associated General Contractors of America and a construction vest from the National Association of Home Builders. You can try out a variety of hands-on activities, including a nail-driving contest with Miller & Long, pipefitting with Oatey and an earthquake simulation with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Everyone will have the opportunity to use real tools and even climb inside construction equipment including a crane in the outdoor Truck Petting Zoo!


Brownie and Junior Girl Scouts can earntheir STEM Career Exploration badges by discovering the many trade career possibilities, speaking with professionals in STEM positions and imagining themselves in their dream jobs.


A Tech Room will have augmented reality (AR) demonstrations, virtual reality (VR) experiences and other immersive digital activities to engage older children and teens. Using a mobile phone, visitors will be able to download an app and try Walter P Moore’s VR activity, changing structure type from steel to concrete to wood to see how much energy would be required to create those structures. The International Union of Elevator Constructors will have a VR simulator allowing participants to move a lift around a job site, something that is done daily across the country. By raising the platform in different scenarios, teens will discover the variety of skills needed to complete the task.


Storytime will take place four times throughout the day in the Storytime Room, featuring classic children’s books appearing in our upcoming exhibition, Building Stories. This new long-term exhibition, opening Sunday, January 21, will call attention to the built environment’s role as an important, and often overlooked, character in children’s literature.

Fun, family-friendly events like The Big Build are vital to broadening children’s – and their caregivers’ – perceptions of educational and professional opportunities related to our built world and inspiring them to be change makers.

To learn more about The Big Build, visit