The Renwick Gallery is one of the branches of the Smithsonian American Art Museum or the SAAM . It is located in Washington, D.C. and it houses decorative arts and crafts that are from the 19th century up to the present. It is a part of the National Historic Landmark building in 1859 and used to house the Corcoran Gallery of Art. Before being called as the Renwick Gallery it was used to be known as “the American Louvre.” It was called as such because its design was somehow patterned in France’s Tuileries Palace.
The Renwick Gallery was ought to be the first museum in Washington, D.C. It was built to house the collection of European and American art of William Wilson Corcoran. The building was named after its designer. James Renwick, Jr., a famous architect in the 19th century.
In the late 1950s, the Renwick Gallery was proposed to be demolished, however; it was saved from such because of then, First Lady, Jacqueline Kennedy proposition to keep it there. It took years of deliberation whether to keep it or not and even the higher courts have been into the matter. So instead of being demolished, the Renwick Gallery was turned over to the Smithsonian American Art Museum in 1965 thus, it now mainly displays the decorative arts and crafts of the 19thup to 21st centuries.
The Renwick Gallery has two floors. The first floor features temporary exhibits about twice in a year. Among the exhibits would include the showcasing of different artifacts, again, something that would relate to decorative arts and crafts. These crafts are unique and unusually seen. According to its curator, the things they display are not the everyday thing that we see.
On the other hand, the second floor has the Grand Salon; it is considered as one of the most renowned art-filled rooms in Washington, D.C. It displays 70 beautiful paintings done by 51 American artists. These paintings were painted between 1840 and 1930.
Among the known American artists whose works of art are displayed are Margaret Boozer, Wendell Castle, Dale Chihuly’s, Larry Fuente, Sam Maloof, Maria Martinez, Albert Paley, Judith Schaechter, Kim Schmahmann and many more.
In December 9, 2013, the Renwick Gallery closed because it was due for major renovation to make its gallery more contemporary and up to date. This was done to maintain its original structure and to ensure that it is saved from deterioration. Aside from ensuring the building’s integrity, all of the major safety features are ought to be replaced and upgraded such as the electrical, fire-suppression system, plumbing and also the security and data systems. Of course, the workshops and offices in the basement will also be done to give more workspace and room for the officials of the museum.
It was said that David Rubenstein, a local real estate developer, donated $5.4 million to help out in the fundraising for the project. According to the Smithsonian spokespersons, the Grand Salon gallery will be renamed upon its target opening on 2016 after David Rubenstein.