Renwick Gallery

The Renwick Gallery at 1661 Pennsylvania Avenue, is near the White House. Constructed from 1859-1874, it is the oldest museum in D.C. that was originally built to be a museum. It was designed by James Renwick, who also designed the Smithsonian Castle and St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. It is an elaborate building in the Second Empire style, with an ornate mansard roof.
In 1898, it was converted from an art gallery to the U.S. Court of Claims. The Court of Claims remained there until the early 1960’s, when it was proposed that the building be torn down. Jackie Kennedy, as part of her efforts to preserve Lafayette Square, helped to save the building, and it was turned over to the Smithsonian, who converted it back into its original purpose as a museum, using it to display American crafts and design. The museum is currently closed for a three-year renovation.

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