National Building Museum to add Big Maze for summer


A rendering of the National Building Museum’s “The BIG Maze.” Courtesy BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group. ( Courtesy BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group)

The National Building Museum is in a maze craze. The museum announced Wednesday that it will be opening the “Big Maze” to twist up visitors in its Great Hall this summer.

Beginning July 4 and running through September, the 18-foot-high Baltic birch plywood structure, inspired by 18th-century European labyrinths and hedge mazes, and modern American corn mazes, continues the museum’s recent tradition of building interactive activities in the summer.

In the past two years, the museum’s mini-golf course drew 30,000 visitors. “We wanted to do something different, something in our great hall, which is the size of a football field,” said Cathy Frankel, vice president of exhibitions.

The maze, as a follow-up to the golf course, will help acquaint visitors with the space and show that “we’re not a stodgy old museum. We’re really, really doing fun things and things to engage people,” Frankel said.

The second- and third-floor museum balconies will provide an aerial perspective of the maze.

In a statement, designer Bjarke Ingels said the Big Maze inverts traditional maze design. High walls descend toward the center, which “brings clarity and visual understanding upon reaching the heart of the labyrinth.”

The maze will be the first large-scale building installation inside the museum since 1988, when Frank Gehry designed a sheet metal structure to celebrate the centennial of the Sheet Metal Workers International Association.

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