Despite the tough economic times, the National Building Museum continued to offer free admission, unlike many of the other private, nonprofit museums in the Washington, D.C., area. However, as of June 27, the museum now charges an entry fee for its exhibitions. But visitors still can enjoy the historic building itself, as access to the Great Hall, gift shop, and café will continue to be free, along with docent-led building tours. In addition, admission to all family festivals also will be free of charge.

The exhibition entry fee will be $8 for adults and $5 for youths (3-17 years old), students who present their ID, and seniors (65 years old and up). All children under 2 years old and museum members will get in free, along with active-duty military members and their families between Memorial Day and Labor Day. For those families who want to go to the Building Zone, an interactive display for children ages 2 to 6, there will be a fee of $3 for each adult and child, unless they are members. Membership to the museum comes in a variety of prices depending on the number of people joining. General membership costs $50 for an individual, $70 for a couple, and $80 for a family.

In a note to staff announcing the move, executive director Chase Rynd attributed the decision to begin charging for admittance to the down economy. “Over the past few years, the recession has been particularly devastating for the culture and arts community, as well as the building and design industry,” he wrote. “The many people who have deep affinity for the National Building Museum understand all too well, therefore, that this institution has been greatly impacted by the economic crisis. "Vice president for marketing and communications Carol Abrams later noted that changes in government funding also played a part. “We needed to institute admission now as a result of federal cuts,” she said.

Nonetheless, Abrams said she, along with everyone else on staff, isn’t worried about how the museum will fare with its newly implemented admission charge. In fact, she said that going forward, she expects museum membership to increase. “We imagine more of the local families will buy memberships, especially those with young children,” she said. She went on to emphasize that the museum is not expecting to see a major decrease in overall attendance. “We hope people value our museum and continue to see what they want to see.”

For more information on the National Building Museum, visit www.nbm.org.