One of the earliest examples of an American architectural model to exist, this wood and paper model was presented to the Smithsonian's building committee by James Renwick, Jr. with his proposal for the building in 1846. Renwick included an interchangeable north tower, seen in the background, offering the option of symmetrically balanced towers.
Few changes had occurred on the south facade of the Smithsonian Institution Building by 1885 except for the wooden shed to the right of the south door and the alteration of the entrance on the south side of the east wing into a freight loading platform ( removed in 1971). Benches have been placed along paths in the South Yard.
This 1867 photograph looks east into a newly decorated Lower Main Hall, or the Great Hall, of the Smithsonian Institution Building. Visitors pose in the center. The second floor galleries are clearly visible. The delicate stencil work on the ceiling is by architect Adolf Cluss, who following the repair of water damage in the Lower Main Hall, used the opportunity to enhance the walls and ceiling.
Many plans were made for an elaborate memorial to the Institution's benefactor, but the lack of an appropriation dictated a more modest course. Smithson's marker from the Italian gravesite was incorporated into a room adjacent to the north entrance, and a gate was fashioned from pieces of the fence that had surrounded the site. Architects Hornblower and Marshall redesigned the room to give it a more somber classical feeling, replacing the ceiling, windows, and the floor.
The Smithsonian was one of the first museums in the country to develop a special children's place during the early part of the 20th century. Convinced that museums could provide a fertile environment conducive to children as well as adults, then Smithsonian secretary Samuel Pierpont Langley (1834-1906) converted a room on the first floor of the Smithsonian Institution Building's south tower into a gallery of natural history exhibits aimed specifically at children.
The West Range in 1871, which had formerly served as part of the Gallery of Art, was arranged to display ethnological specimens of North American Indian workmanship along with artifacts from China, Japan, and prehistoric France for purposes of comparison. Along the arcades hang portraits depicting American Indian delegates, who visited Washington between 1858 and 1869, painted by United States National Museum artist Antonio Zeno Shindler. At the end of the hall hangs a large portrait of the French historian and statesman Francois Pierre Guillaume Guizot painted by George Peter Alexander Healey.
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