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Dragon in bitumen mould for plaster ornament, via Eli Nassim and Debra Picker collection

National Building Museum
National Building Museum
Sounds like a hoot: More than 125 architectural items depicting animals are the focus of a new National Building Museum exhibit scheduled to run through spring 2020 from April 20. “Animals, Collected” draws from the museum’s permanent collection and includes objects in the Washington National Cathedral, the American Brick Collection, and other resources.

Photograph of a sea creatures sculpture by Byron Chambers, via National Cathedral (20th century)

National Building Museum

A number of the objects have never before been publicly displayed, the museum said in a recent release. “Imagined as a cabinet of curiosities, Animals, Collected presents two- and three-dimensional materials that promote closer inspection of these buildings we see daily,” it explained. “As decoration on municipal buildings and temples, churches and warehouses, creatures have emerged on sculptures and structures across time, geography, and function.” The display is organized by animal habitat, and items will show design and construction efforts.
Stone art sketch of polar bears by Heinz Warneke, via National Cathedral (20th century)

The exhibit features over 50 animal species in various media: photographs, drawings, models, construction materials, and tools. “Depictions of animals have been used as shorthand for ideas, people, and character traits for thousands of years, all over the world,” notes the museum. Some of the items depict recognizable animals like fish and dogs; mythical creatures like dragons and gargoyles, others. The collection boasts over 250,000 objects.

Dapper dogs architectural drawing from Indiana, through Northwestern Terra Cotta Company (1907)
The exhibit opens on April 20 and features over 125 architectural Items depicting animals