Smithsonian Preservation

Smithsonian Preservation The Office of Architectural History and Historic Preservation was established in 1986 to curate the largest Smithsonian collection - the buildings. Responsibilities: *Historic Preservation *Architectural History *Smithsonian Castle Collection
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The Arts and Industries Building is open through Sunday, June 24th, as the central hub for By the People, a free city-wi...
06/22/2018

The Arts and Industries Building is open through Sunday, June 24th, as the central hub for By the People, a free city-wide arts and dialogue festival in partnership with Halcyon. Come and visit the building and enjoy the art installations!

This week we scoped out locations for the National Air and Space Museum's photo shoot with the Historic American Buildin...
06/23/2017

This week we scoped out locations for the National Air and Space Museum's photo shoot with the Historic American Buildings Survey team scheduled for later this summer. Stay tuned for more photographs!

Don't forget to look up in the rotunda when visiting the National Museum of Natural History!  Have a great weekend!
04/21/2017

Don't forget to look up in the rotunda when visiting the National Museum of Natural History! Have a great weekend!

Take a look at the results of cleaning tests on the Indiana limestone found on the interior of the Freer Gallery of Art ...
04/03/2017

Take a look at the results of cleaning tests on the Indiana limestone found on the interior of the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. The picture shows the outcomes of various cleaning methods to most effectively and gently remove hand soiling from the stone. This type of soiling happens anywhere humans repeatedly touch a surface, especially at waist height and corners or edges of door openings. Be sure to check out the restored interior stone when the Freer Gallery reopens later this year!

Happy almost end of January from inside the north tower of the Smithsonian Institution Building, also known as the Smith...
01/30/2017

Happy almost end of January from inside the north tower of the Smithsonian Institution Building, also known as the Smithsonian Castle! Smithsonian Preservation has a lot of exciting things to share in 2017, please stay tuned!

Where was Smithsonian Preservation this week?  These are encaustic tiles in the Arts and Industries Building.  Encaustic...
10/21/2016

Where was Smithsonian Preservation this week? These are encaustic tiles in the Arts and Industries Building. Encaustic tiles are made from multiple colors of clay to create an inlaid pattern. You can find these tiles in the center rotunda, the flooring in the foreground of the photo is patterned marble.

Where is Smithsonian Preservation?  Today our consultants were conducting quick cleaning tests and condition assessment ...
10/17/2016

Where is Smithsonian Preservation? Today our consultants were conducting quick cleaning tests and condition assessment on the Bullfinch Gateposts. Please stay tuned as we develop a restoration plan! You can visit this Bullfinch Gatepost at 15th Street and Constitution Avenue NW.

10/17/2016

We are going to start a new photo series called “Where is Smithsonian Preservation?” to highlight our buildings’ significant architectural features and historic fabric, as well as our office site visits. Stay tuned!

The National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution opened to the public Oct. 7, 1968, in the former Patent Office Bu...
10/07/2016

The National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution opened to the public Oct. 7, 1968, in the former Patent Office Building. The Greek Revival structure was the third major government building constructed in Washington, D.C., after the White House and the Capitol Building. Construction started in 1836. During the Civil War it was used as barracks and a hospital for wounded soldiers. Once completed in 1863, it stood as the largest building in the United States. Architects Town and Elliott, Robert Mills, Thomas Ustick Walter, and Edwin Clark worked on the building at various times through its several phases of construction.

In 1958, the Smithsonian saved this historical building from demolition. Faulkner, Kingsbury and Stenhouse completed the extensive renovation to preserve details from the building’s original architecture. Another renovation of the building began in 2000, spurred by the aging infrastructure and the changing neighborhood surrounding the museum. This renovation, completed in 2006 by Hartman Cox, integrated the building’s two museums (NPG and the Smithsonian American Art Museum) through public spaces used for educational programs.

In 2007, a canopy roof of floating glass and steel, designed by Sir Norman Foster, was added above the courtyard. To protect the historic building, this canopy rests atop steel columns rather than the building itself. Katherine Gustafson redesigned the courtyard to complete the transformation.

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden opened to the public on October 4, 1974.  Gordon Bunshaft of Skidmore, Owings ...
10/04/2016

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden opened to the public on October 4, 1974. Gordon Bunshaft of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill designed this monumental and sculptural building to house the Smithsonian's modern and contemporary art. The building and garden were designed to emphasize the site's special location, halfway between the Washington Monument and the Capitol, and its point at the southernmost end of a key axis in the L'Enfant plan for the District of Columbia. Photographs from Smithsonian Institution Archives.

As you are visiting the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture take note of the sandstone p...
09/27/2016

As you are visiting the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture take note of the sandstone posts visible in the foreground of the photograph below located at 15th Street and Constitution Avenue NW. The posts are gateposts originally constructed after 1814 at the entrance to the western grounds of the U.S. Capitol, and attributed to Charles Bullfinch, the architect in charge of the restoration after the War of 1812. The Bullfinch gateposts and gatehouses were removed in 1874, and of the original twenty-four gateposts, four were reconstructed at their present locations on Constitution Avenue c. 1880. You can find the other gatehouses and gateposts at 7th Street, 15th Street and 17th Street and Constitution Avenue NW, and four gateposts at the entrance to the National Arboretum on New York Avenue reconstructed in 1991.

Constructed of rusticated Aquia Creek sandsone, and featuring acanthus leaf motifs and volutes, the gateposts and gatehouses were last restored c. 1939. The Bullfinch Gatehouses and Gateposts were placed on the District of Columbia Inventory of Historic Sites in 1964, listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973, and are located within the National Mall Historic District. The Smithsonian Institution is currently working on updating the National Register nomination, preparing condition surveys, cleaning tests, and a plan for restoration for the gateposts. The gateposts are visible in the photograph below taken in 1856 during the reconstruction of the U.S. Capitol Building dome.

The groundbreaking for the Freer Gallery of Art took place Sept. 23, 1916. The building was designed by architect and la...
09/23/2016

The groundbreaking for the Freer Gallery of Art took place Sept. 23, 1916. The building was designed by architect and landscape planner Charles A. Platt in the Italian Renaissance style. The gallery was commissioned in 1904 by Charles Lang Freer, who was the first donor to give the Smithsonian both a collection and a building for its display. His vision was for a museum and research facility. The first Smithsonian museum to be dedicated to the fine arts opened in 1923, as World War I caused delays in its completion. The Washington Post in 1923 reported that the building cost $1 million to construct.

The Freer is going through a renovation and will reopen October 2017.

Mark your calendars. Visitors are invited to the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden Monday, Oct. 3, to ...
09/22/2016

Mark your calendars. Visitors are invited to the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden Monday, Oct. 3, to celebrate #WorldArchitectureDay by enjoying “Donuts with the ‘Brutalist Donut’”—a day of complimentary donuts and free architecture tours of this iconic circular building.

The Hirshhorn, designed by architect Gordon Bunshaft, was the first modern building on the National Mall. The hollow-centered, elevated cylinder floats above nearly four acres of landscaped grounds for sculpture. It opened Oct. 4, 1974, as a home for modern art.

This image was taken following construction.

09/19/2016

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The Anacostia Neighborhood Museum opened on Sept. 15, 1967, in the former Carver Theater. Opening exhibits included a 18...
09/15/2016

The Anacostia Neighborhood Museum opened on Sept. 15, 1967, in the former Carver Theater. Opening exhibits included a 1890s general store and a do-it-yourself art area. Smithsonian staff and local citizens worked to convert the theater into an exhibition space and to select objects for display. Now known as the Smithsonian's Anacostia Community Museum, its current home opened in 1987 in Fort Stanton Park.

Museum historian Louise Hutchinson and members of the Anacostia Historical Society pose in front of the original Anacostia Neighborhood Museum in September 1967 in this image from the Smithsonian Institution Archives. Image ID: 94-2464

Blast from the past. Check out issues of the Smithsonian Preservation Quarterly (http://www.si.edu/ahhp/spq_start) that ...
09/06/2016

Blast from the past. Check out issues of the Smithsonian Preservation Quarterly (http://www.si.edu/ahhp/spq_start) that were published from 1990-1996. Topics include the Smithsonian Bell, shown here, the photo lab at the Arts and Industries Building, and the first building at the National Zoo. It’s a treasure trove of Smithsonian history.

Here is the Smithsonian's bell on exhibit in the Children's Room of the Smithsonian Institution Building in 1996.

Take an interactive tour of the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
09/01/2016
Smithsonian Magazine

Take an interactive tour of the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Explore the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture before it opens its doors.

The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture will officially open Sept. 24. Lead designer Dav...
08/30/2016

The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture will officially open Sept. 24. Lead designer David Adjaye and lead architect Philip Freelon, with their architectural team Freelon Adjaye Bond/SmithGroup, won the international competition in April 2009 to design the museum.

The building exterior is covered in 3,600 bronze-colored cast aluminum panels weighing 230 tons. The panels draw on inspiration from the ornate filigree iron work found in Charleston, Savannah, and New Orleans. The team studied the historic iron lattice work which, in many cases, was created by enslaved Africans. The building cost $540 million to construct.

The Smithsonian’s Arts and Industries Building opened March 4, 1881, as the National Museum Building to fulfill the need...
08/19/2016

The Smithsonian’s Arts and Industries Building opened March 4, 1881, as the National Museum Building to fulfill the need to accommodate the numerous collections and artifacts the Smithsonian was receiving.

Architects Adolf Cluss and Paul Schulze designed the building that is considered to be in the High Victorian style. Built with red brick, iron, stone, and plaster, it displayed exhibits, hosted events, including the inaugural ball for President James Garfield, and contained staff offices. It closed in 2004 for major revitalization of the building shell that included structural upgrades and replacement of the roof. Interim interior systems and finishes were completed in 2015 to enable events and short-term programming.

Rachel Goslins has been appointed director of the building to develop and implement plans for the building.

Photo by Eric Long, Smithsonian Institution.

Today marks the 170th anniversary of the Smithsonian Institution. Architect James Renwick Jr. won the 1846 competition t...
08/10/2016

Today marks the 170th anniversary of the Smithsonian Institution. Architect James Renwick Jr. won the 1846 competition to design a building for the Smithsonian. The red sandstone Smithsonian Institution Building, or the Castle, was completed in 1855.

The National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution marked its 40th anniversary on July 1. Here is a construction...
07/05/2016

The National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution marked its 40th anniversary on July 1. Here is a construction photo from 1973 from the Smithsonian Institution Archives. Image ID: 73-10771-21A

Writing uncovered on the wall in the paleo hall. Who knows what else lurks under these walls?
12/15/2015

Writing uncovered on the wall in the paleo hall. Who knows what else lurks under these walls?

Work is progressing in the paleo hall, National Museum of Natural History. Stay tuned!
11/30/2015

Work is progressing in the paleo hall, National Museum of Natural History. Stay tuned!

One of our architects found this amazing photo of the National Museum of Natural History's  south entrance construction!
11/24/2015

One of our architects found this amazing photo of the National Museum of Natural History's south entrance construction!

09/30/2015

Hope this works! It's a new app link for stories about the Smithsonian Castle - fires, owls, it's all there!
http://m.si.edu/#highlights/15

We like this look in the Arts and Industries Building! Reminds us of the BAM Theatre in Brooklyn! Not everything has to ...
09/28/2015

We like this look in the Arts and Industries Building! Reminds us of the BAM Theatre in Brooklyn! Not everything has to look brand new!

Wow! September already! Here's a photo of Secretary S. Dillon Ripley (second from left) when he was an OSS agent in Ceyl...
09/16/2015

Wow! September already! Here's a photo of Secretary S. Dillon Ripley (second from left) when he was an OSS agent in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka!). Not architectural, but interesting! You never know what's in the SI Archives!

Gorgeous rendering of the north entrance to the Freer by Charles Platt, the Freer's architect. No CADD in those days!
08/31/2015

Gorgeous rendering of the north entrance to the Freer by Charles Platt, the Freer's architect. No CADD in those days!

We sure like this quote by Jorge Wagensberg, Barcelona, Spain!We see our buildings as the largest collection in the Smit...
08/17/2015

We sure like this quote by Jorge Wagensberg, Barcelona, Spain!
We see our buildings as the largest collection in the Smithsonian!

If you're in DC, please come to the Smithsonian Castle and take a look at Rick Stamm's fabulous exhibit on the EARLIEST ...
08/12/2015

If you're in DC, please come to the Smithsonian Castle and take a look at Rick Stamm's fabulous exhibit on the EARLIEST KNOWN PHOTO OF THE CASTLE UNDER CONSTRUCTION - WOW!!

Work proceeds on the Paleo Hall, National Museum of Natural History!
08/03/2015

Work proceeds on the Paleo Hall, National Museum of Natural History!

We're not in Paris! We're at the National Museum of Natural History!
07/07/2015

We're not in Paris! We're at the National Museum of Natural History!

Who knew that the model of the Starship Enterprise once was stored in the Arts and Industries Building before the NASM b...
06/30/2015

Who knew that the model of the Starship Enterprise once was stored in the Arts and Industries Building before the NASM building opened in 1976? And how did we know? The floor and room number could only have been in A&I!!

Here's a fantastic piece from the Smithsonian Furnishings Collection: a chair designed by the architect of the Castle, J...
06/23/2015

Here's a fantastic piece from the Smithsonian Furnishings Collection: a chair designed by the architect of the Castle, James Renwick, Jr.! If you're in DC. sign up for a docent-led Castle tour on Saturdays and see for yourself!

Beat the DC heat! Go underground to the National Museum of African Art and the Sackler Gallery - enter through  these ze...
06/23/2015

Beat the DC heat! Go underground to the National Museum of African Art and the Sackler Gallery - enter through these zen-like pavilions in the Enid A. Haupt Garden!

Does this look familiar? It's George Washington, now at National Museum of American History! This stereo view was taken ...
06/23/2015

Does this look familiar? It's George Washington, now at National Museum of American History! This stereo view was taken in 1873! He was moved a lot until the SI received him.

The first Secretary of the Smithsonian, Joseph Henry, lived and worked in the east wing of the Castle. Since then, every...
06/23/2015

The first Secretary of the Smithsonian, Joseph Henry, lived and worked in the east wing of the Castle. Since then, every secretary has worked (but not lived) in the same space!

These historic doors at the Freer will be repaired and restored soon. Maintenance is our mantra!
05/19/2015

These historic doors at the Freer will be repaired and restored soon. Maintenance is our mantra!

Work progresses at the National Museum of African American History and Culture!!!
04/24/2015

Work progresses at the National Museum of African American History and Culture!!!

Yesterday, while the Castle's bell was run, the Haupt Garden behind the Castle was full of beautiful blooms - still is!!
04/10/2015

Yesterday, while the Castle's bell was run, the Haupt Garden behind the Castle was full of beautiful blooms - still is!!

EXCITING NEWS! TODAY, 9 APRIL, the bell in the flag tower of the  the Smithsonian Castle, will be rung along with others...
04/09/2015

EXCITING NEWS! TODAY, 9 APRIL, the bell in the flag tower of the the Smithsonian Castle, will be rung along with others across USA at 3:15EDT to commemorate the end of the Civil War! The bell was installed in 1996 as shown in the photo!

We thought you'd like to see a part of the Smithsonian's Tropical Research Institute. This is Barro Colorado Island, rig...
03/31/2015

We thought you'd like to see a part of the Smithsonian's Tropical Research Institute. This is Barro Colorado Island, right in the middle of the Panama Canal!

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