Field Trip: Arts & Industries Building

I went on a hard hat tour of one of my favorite structures, the Smithsonian Arts & Industries Building, with the DC Preservation League this summer…
Elle at the A and IWith its distinctive polychrome masonry and High Victorian Gothic Revival style, it was designed by Adolf Cluss and Paul Schulze and opened in 1881 as the U.S. National Museum to house the collections of the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exposition.

U.S. National Museum 1900-06 (Library of Congress)

U.S. National Museum 1900-06 (Library of Congress)

It is undergoing a more than $40 million revitalization. The 2.5 acre roof and 800 windows are to be replaced, the ornamental metals will be repaired and reinforced, the brick facade will be repaired, and spaces that were divided into galleries will be opened again. A and I grand hallLet me just say this: I am scared of heights. Really…scared…of…heights. That didn’t keep me from climbing 50 ft up the scaffolding into the rotunda. I mean, how many times would I get to do something like that?
A and I designsOne of the finials from the roof…
A and I finialThe north facade of the building has the statue “Columbia Protecting Science & Industry”, which was also restored…
A and I statue and terra cottaIt is scheduled to be reopoened in Summer 2014, but there aren’t solid plans for it yet. One proposal is for its possible use as the National Museum of the American Latino. This is its south facade…
A and I south facadeYou can visit DCPL’s site for upcoming events and to help support preservation efforts in Washington, D.C. And for the fun of it, you can check out the live webcam to see the renovation’s progress.

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