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The National Building Museum Shop: A Grommet-Selling Shop

You know that The Grommet brings products to you everyday from smaller Makers and entrepreneurs. You may not know that many independent retailers also look to The Grommet to fill their shelves with innovative products. It's another way that The Grommet and our community helps new products succeed.Here's the story of the National Building Museum Shop in Washington DC.
The Museum Shop spreads the message that good design matters by offering well-crafted and sustainable housewares, office items, jewelry, educational toys, books, and more.It was honored as the "Best Museum Store" in Washington City Paper's annual Best of D.C. competition, "Best Museum Store" in the country by Niche magazine, "Best All-Around Museum Shop" in the region by The Washington Post, a "Top Shop" by the Washingtonian, and named best museum shop in D.C. by National Geographic Traveler's blog, Intelligent Travel.
The historic home of the National Building Museum stands today as one of the great American buildings of the nineteenth century and one of Washington, D.C.’s most spectacular works of public architecture. Built between 1882 and 1887, the project began following a Senate Appropriations Committee approval of $250,000 to purchase a suitable site and construct a fireproof building for the U.S. Pension Bureau’s headquarters. U.S. Army Quartermaster General Montgomery C. Meigs was appointed as both the architect and engineer for the building. The building was Meigs' last and most important architectural work and the one of which he was most proud.
The building was designed for two distinct functions: to house the Pension Bureau and to provide a suitably grand space for Washington’s social and political functions. The design was inspired by two Roman palaces. The exterior is modeled closely on the brick, monumentally-scaled Palazzo Farnese, completed to Michelangelo’s specifications in 1589.
The building's interior, with its open, arcaded galleries surrounding a central hall, is reminiscent of the early-sixteenth-century Palazzo della Cancelleria. For the colossal Corinthian columns that divide the Great Hall, Meigs took his inspiration from the church of Santa Maria degli Angeli in Rome built by Michelangelo in the mid-sixteenth century.

Uncle Bill's Precision Tweezers - Browse

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While I cannot take credit for opening the Museum Shop, it was opened to support the mission of the Museum as an extension of the visitors experience and to augment the education of the visitors about the built environment.
Our mission is to advance the quality of the built environment by educating people about its impact on their lives.

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The National Building Museum is America’s leading cultural institution devoted to interpreting the history and impact of the built environment. We do this by telling the stories of architecture, engineering, and design. As one of the most family-friendly, awe-inspiring spots in Washington, D.C., we welcome visitors from around the world to our exhibitions, public programs, and festivals. Located just four blocks from the National Mall, the Museum occupies a magnificent building with a soaring Great Hall, colossal 75-foot-tall Corinthian columns, and a 1,200-foot terra cotta frieze.
From the visitors, colleagues, and suppliers.

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I think that our customers are often surprised by our collection of mobiles hanging from our ceiling as you will notice in the photos of the shop.
Not an official mascot but secretly one of our stockroom carts is called “Little Bit” and the other one is called “Blue”.
Our collection, exhibitions, and public programs.
Frequently depending on the changing assortment, exhibitions.

It is collective memory…. Every time I have drug my staff into supporting one of my ideas to hang some unusual object from our ceiling. We have amazing height and we have hung a bike, a giant model of an airplane made from Superstructs, a large depiction of an Iceberg, and other things from the ceiling.

Honestly how much they love the shop. We hear this comment multiple times a day. It would be hard to say that a day hasn’t gone by that someone from the staff or our volunteers don’t hear this comment.
Evolving the store into the next 30+ years. We have been in business for over 35 years, while some things have changed other things have stayed the same, as we go forward the challenge is to remain relevant. We would like to carry the store into new heights both physically in appearance and product recognition.


  • Robert J. Meigs Says:

    I am a descendant of Gen. Meigs - was privileged to visit the Museum as part of the MC Meigs Memorial Dedication a few years ago.

  • Jennifer Story Says:

    Although I haven't visited it in years, the National Building Museum was one of my favorites when I lived in the area. It's well worth a visit just for the architecture alone, but it sounds like the museum shop is also a great part of the overall experience.

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