Priced Out

Eviction is the subject of the National Building Museum’s immersive spring show

East News Urbanism
Eviction and its far-reaching impact is the subject of the National Building Museum's immersive spring show. Sally Ryan's photographs highlight the hardships faced by affected families. (Sally Ryan/Courtesy National Building Museum)

Inspired by Matthew Desmond’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, the National Building Museum (NBM) in Washington, D.C. will be hosting Evicted, an immersive exhibition meant to expose visitors to the causes and fallout of eviction. From April 14 through May 19, 2019, guests can see original photography, audio interviews, and new data from Desmond’s Eviction Lab for free.

The act of eviction can be a destabilizing force on families, as the evicted are thrust into uncertainty over their housing situation and marked with a blemish on their records that landlords can use to turning them down on rental applications. According to the NBM, “More than 11 million Americans are extremely low-income renters,” and 75 percent of qualified renters don’t receive federal aid.

A photograph featured in Evicted. (Michael Kienitz/Courtesy National Building Museum)

“Until recently, we simply didn’t know how immense this problem was, or how serious the consequences,” said Desmond in a statement. “Eviction does not simply drop poor families into a dark valley, a trying yet relatively brief detour on life’s journey. It fundamentally redirects their way, casting them onto a different, and much more difficult, path. Eviction is a cause, not just a condition, of poverty.”

Evicted will convey this hardship through photographs of the eviction process, interviews with those affected, and infographics specifically commissioned for the show. The Eviction Lab’s repository of national eviction information will be packaged for visitors in an easily digestible manner, as the sheer facts and figures involved are typically overwhelming.

A family’s possessions stacked on the curb. (Sally Ryan/Courtesy National Building Museum)

Far from simply presenting the problem of eviction in a void, Evicted will highlight affordable housing projects and how local and state governments–as well as nonprofits–are tackling the issue. Ultimately, the museum wants to empower patrons to leave with ideas on how to help those on the precipice in their own neighborhoods and lift up those who have already felt the sting of eviction.

“Homes form the building blocks of community life,” said executive director of the National Building Museum, Chase Rynd, in a statement. “We have to reveal what happens when this stability is threatened, as eviction looms—as well as ways to help stem this crisis.”

(Michael Kienitz/Courtesy National Building Museum)

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