An Exhibition Showcasing This Summer’s Protest Art Is Opening At The National Building Museum

Mª del Rosario Castro Díaz Mª del Rosario Castro Díaz

National Building Museum Protest Art

Murals That Matter will open on the Museum’s West Lawn on Friday, August 28.

This year’s protests have given rise to beautiful public art pieces all across the country, including cities like DC, Chicago and New York. Now, the National Building Museum plans to celebrate it with its brand new open-air exhibition.

Murals That Matter: Activism Through Public Art, created in collaboration with the  STEM-and-Arts-based nonprofits, P.A.I.N.T.S Institute, and the DowntownDC Business Improvement District (BID), will open on Friday, August 28,  at 9 am to coincide with 202 March on Washington events.

The exhibition, which features DC street art which was created in response to this summer’s social justice protests, speaks to the impact art can have on the built environment  as well as the nations “urgent need for dialogue and reflection.”

“Protest murals reflect the intersection of art and politics, a tradition as old as prehistoric cave drawings and as current as Banksy’s graffiti,” said Brent Glass, Interim Executive Director of the Museum on a press release. “The National Building Museum welcomes our partners, the DowntownDC BID and P.A.I.N.T.S., in this timely exhibition.”

Earlier this year, the DowntownDC BID worked with the P.A.I.N.T.S. Institute to commission dozens of murals for boarded-up storefronts at the Gallery Place neighborhood, 18 of which will be displayed in the exhibition. “The Gallery Place neighborhood was transformed with artworks that expressed love, unity, and hope; that spoke to racial injustice and societal inequities; and that proclaimed support for the Black Lives Matter movement,” the release says about the murals.


Six additional artists have also been commissioned new murals to celebrate “The Big Six” who helped organize the March on Washington back in 1963. These will be painted live between August 28 and August 29. The murals will include portrayals of  John Lewis, Chairman, Student Non-Violence Coordinating Committee; Whitney Young, National Director, Urban League; A. Philip Randolph, President, Negro American Labor Council; Martin Luther King Jr., President, Southern Christian Leadership Conference; James Farmer, Director, Congress of Racial Equality; Roy Wilkins, Executive Secretary, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

The exhibition will be on display at the museum’s West Lawn until late November and will kick off with two days “two days of reflection, activism and enjoyment for everyone.”

On August 28 and 29, attendees will be able to join DowntownDC BID and P.A.I.N.T.S. and meet the murals’ creators, register to vote or volunteer at a polling place,  partake in family-friendly art activities and enjoy “Good Trouble”–themed cuisine from local vendors.

Come September, the National Building Museum will also host a Murals That Matter discussion on both the Gallery Place Murals as well as the larger role and importance of art in the public realm. Details on the event are yet to be released.

See also: A New Museum Dedicated To The Latinx Community In America Could Open Soon On The National Mall

[Featured image: @nationalbuildingmuseum, Instagram]