Jun
23

Today in Smithsonian History: June 23, 1965

Renwick Gallery, history, Court of Claims, Corcoran Gallery, S Dillon Ripley

June 23, 1965 President Lyndon Johnson approves the transfer of the Old Court of Claims Building (the original Corcoran Gallery of Art) by the General Services Administration to the Smithsonian Institution, for “a gallery of arts, crafts and design.” The building will be used to house a new museum and art gallery, the Renwick Gallery, part of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.  The building was designed by architect James Renwick, who also designed the Smithsonian Institution Building or “Castle.”

The image shows a  letter from S. Dillon Ripley, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, to U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson requesting that the U.S. Court of Claims Building be transferred to Smithsonian custody for use as a museum. William Wilson Corcoran began construction on his gallery of art at 17th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue in 1859 and hired Renwick as the architect. The building was seized by the government in 1861 and used as a warehouse and office space for Quartermaster General Montgomery C. Meigs during the Civil War. The building was eventually returned to Corcoran, and opened as his art gallery in 1872. When his collection outgrew the space, he built a new gallery nearby. The building was then used as the U.S. Court of Claims Building until 1965, when it was transferred to the Smithsonian.

Exterior of the Renwick Gallery, home of the Smithsonian American Art Museum's craft and decorative art program in Washington, D.C., ca. 1875 from J. F. Jarvis Stereoscopic Views. (Smithsonian Institution Archives)

Exterior of the Renwick Gallery, home of the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s craft and decorative art program in Washington, D.C., ca. 1875 from J. F. Jarvis Stereoscopic Views. (Smithsonian Institution Archives)

Exterior view of the Renwick Gallery, home of the Smithsonian American Art Museum's craft and decorative art program in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Joshua Yetman)

Exterior view of the Renwick Gallery, home of the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s craft and decorative art program in Washington, D.C. The Gallery reopened to the public in November 2015 after an extensive two-year renovation. (Photo by Joshua Yetman)

Courtesy of Smithsonian Institution Archives

 


Posted: 23 June 2017
About the Author:

The Torch relies on contributions from the entire Smithsonian community.