Arts and Industries Building
The Arts and Industries Building is the second oldest of the Smithsonian museums on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Called initially the National Museum, it was built to provide the Smithsonian with its first proper facility for public display of its growing collections. The building, designed by architects Adolf Cluss and Paul Schulze, opened in 1881, hosting an inaugural ball for President James A. Garfield. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1971.

History
The Arts and Industries Building was designed to house exhibits from the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exposition, using much the same style as the buildings of that event. After the closure of a "permanent exhibition" in Philadelphia, the foreign exhibits were sent to the District of Columbia Armory Building in Washington, at the corner of 7th Street SW and Independence Avenue in the expectation that they were to be displayed in Washington. A bill was introduced in Congress by the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian to build a suitable structure. The bill included plans developed by General Montgomery C. Meigs, which were based on the Government Building by James Windrom at the Centennial Exposition, which was itself inspired by structures at the 1873 Vienna Exposition. Funds were approved in 1879 and the design was executed by Cluss and Schulze, based on the Meigs plan. In 1910, the natural history collections were moved to the new National Museum of Natural History, and the old museum was given its present name. In 1964 the remaining exhibitions were moved to the National Museum of History and Technology, now known as the National Museum of American History. In 1976, the Rocket and aviation collections were moved to the National Air and Space Museum.

Description
The Arts and Industries Building was sited slightly farther back from the Mall than the Smithsonian Castle to avoid obscuring the view of the Castle from the Capitol. The building was designed to be symmetrical, composed of a Greek cross with a central rotunda. The exterior was constructed with geometric patterns of polychrome brick, and a sculpture entitled Columbia Protecting Science and Industry by sculptor Caspar Buberl was placed above the main entrance on the north side. The interior of the building was partially lit through the use of skylights and clerestory windows. An iron truss roof covers the building. In 1883, the exterior was adjusted to use a more vibrant maroon-colored brick. In plan the building is composed of four pavilions, one at each corner, about 40 feet (12 m) square and three stories tall. These surround a central rotunda. Lower sections, or "ranges" were placed outside the pavilions. Pervasive complaints of dampness and the poor health of the building's occupants led to the replacement of the wood floors in the 1890s. Balconies were added in 1896”“1902 to increase space after a new Smithsonian Building failed to be authorized by Congress. A tunnel was constructed in 1901 to the Castle building next door.

Current use
In 1976, the Arts and Industries Building reopened with 1876: A Centennial Exhibition, featuring the Philadelphia Exposition artifacts it was originally built to house. The building later housed temporary exhibitions and a children's theater, known as the Discovery Theater. In 2004, the museum was again closed for renovation. Its uncertain future and deteriorating condition led the National Trust for Historic Preservation to name it in 2006 as one of America's Most Endangered Places, an annual list of endangered historic sites. In 2009 it was scheduled to receive $25 million in funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 for renovation work. The shell revitalization was solicited, in 2010. A complete restoration could cost $200 million, and last until the year 2014. It needs $65 million in structural renovation, and has also been discussed as a possible site for a national Latino museum.

Building Activity

  • Teodora Todorova
    Teodora Todorova activity.buildings_person.create
    about 5 years ago via OpenBuildings.com