Renwick Gallery - Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington DC

••• Renwick Gallery. Photo © Smithsonian Institution

The Renwick Gallery, a branch of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, highlights American crafts and contemporary arts from the 19th to 21st centuries. The Renwick Gallery features unique works of art including clay, fiber, glass, metal, and wood. Several hundred paintings—hung salon style: one-atop-another and side-by-side—are displayed in the impressive Grand Salon, a 4,300-square-foot gallery with a 40-foot ceiling and state-of-the art lighting.

Recent Renovation

The Renwick Gallery was renovated and reopened in November 2015. The renovation included carefully restored historic features and an entirely new infrastructure - a replacement of all heating, air conditioning, electrical, plumbing and fire-suppression systems as well as upgrades to security, phone and data communication systems. Wireless access has been installed throughout the building. The original window configuration has been re-created, two vaulted ceilings in the second floor galleries will be restored and the basement will be reconfigured for improved staff offices and workshops.

Inaugural Exhibition: The debut exhibition, "WONDER," encompasses all the public galleries, with new room-size installations by nine artists, including Jennifer Angus, Chakaia Booker, Gabriel Dawe, Tara Donovan, Patrick Dougherty, Janet Echelman, John Grade, Maya Lin and Leo Villareal. Each artist works intensively with expressive materials-insects, tires, thread, paper, osiers, netting, woven wood, glass marbles, and LED light strips-to create installations that dazzle the eye and resonate with today's environmental and social issues.

Nicholas Bell, the Fleur and Charles Bresler Curator of Craft and Decorative Arts, selected the artists. 

Location: Pennsylvania Ave. and 17th St. NW Washington, DC. The closest Metro stations are Farragut North and Farragut West. See a map. Parking is very limited in this area. For suggestions of places to park, see a guide to parking near the National Mall.

Hours: Regular hours are daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

About the Renwick Gallery’s Historic Building

The Renwick Gallery is one of the most elegant examples of Second Empire architecture in the U.S. The building was designed in 1859 by James Renwick Jr., the architect who also designed the Smithsonian’s Castle and St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. The Renwick Gallery is the third-oldest Smithsonian building. Renwick was inspired by the Louvre’s Tuileries addition in Paris and modeled the gallery in the French Second Empire style that was popular at the time.

The Renwick Gallery is located just steps from the White House in the heart of Washington, DC. The Second Empire-style building, a National Historic Landmark, was initially built to house the private art collection of Washington banker and philanthropist William Wilson Corcoran. By 1897, Corcoran's collection had outgrown the building and the gallery was moved to its location across the street. The U.S. Court of Claims took over the Renwick Building in 1899. In 1972, the Smithsonian restored the building and established it as a gallery of American art, crafts, and design.


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