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Smithsonian Art & Industries Building

Washington, DC

History – Begun in 1869 and originally named the National Museum, the Smithsonian Arts & Industries Building (AIB) is prominently placed on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The second oldest of the Smithsonian museums, AIB was the Smithsonian’s first “large display” facility initially built to house and showcase multiple collections. In the same year it opened (1881), it served as the venue for President James Garfield’s Presidential Inaugural Ball.

Among the original collections shown at the AIB was an exhibit from the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exposition. The building was specifically constructed to reflect the same architectural style ats the building where the Exposition originally took place. Shaped in the pattern of a Greek cross with a central rotunda, the focal point of the façade is a sculpture by Casper Buberl titled Columbia Protecting Science and Industry installed at the north entrance.

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In 1971 the AIB was declared a National Historic Landmark and by 1976 all exhibits had been moved to their appropriate counterpart museums, including the National Museum of American History, the National Museum of Natural History and the National Air and Space Museum. At this time the museum opened an exhibit entitled: 1876: A Centennial Exhibition showcasing the original relics that the structure had been built to house.

In 2006 AIB was included in a list of America’s Most Endangered Places, which points out the most prominent historical sites that may possibly be lost if they are not rehabilitated.

Lathan's Contributions:

The Lathan Company was contracted to perform selective demolition, cleaning, restoration, and refinishing of the building’s exterior masonry and stone features. The project’s scope included both interior and exterior structural and cosmetic components.

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