National Craft Month. To expand your idea of what "craft"
means, visit the Renwick
Gallery, a division of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Exhibiting
the finest work in American craft, this gallery houses stunning works
of true craftsmen and craftswomen.
History of the Renwick Gallery
The Renwick Gallery building was constructed in 1858 to house the art collection of William Wilson Corcoran, a prominent D.C. banker. The building became Washington D.C.'s first art museum. During the Civil War, the building was used to dispense Union Army uniforms. By 1897, Corcoran's collection had outgrown its current location and moved. The site then became the U.S. Court of Claims. In 1965, the building was transferred to the Smithsonian and was named the "Renwick Gallery" in honor of the original architect. The Renwick was opened to the public in 1972.
What to See and Do at the Renwick
The Renwick Gallery building itself is a work of excellent craftsmanship. The beautiful brick exterior is complemented inside by intricate carvings, lovely chandeliers, a stately staircase, and its Grand Salon and Octagon Room.
The first floor hosts special exhibitions of modern American craft and decorative arts. The top of the staircase is met by the Grand Salon, decorated in High Victorian Style. This room is home to sculpture and paintings from the Smithsonian American Art Museum. It is also used for special events such as lectures, receptions, and concerts. The remaining second floor rooms display various items from the permanent collection. Glass, metal, wood, fabrics, and clay are all in view.
How to Get There, Where to Park, Etc.
The Renwick Gallery is located on the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and 17th Street, NW, close to the White House. The closest Metro stop is Farragut West (orange/blue lines).
The Renwick is open every day (except Dec. 25) from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Visit the Smithsonian Art Museum web site for more information.
Artwork credits - top: "Harvest" (detail) by John Garrett; bottom: "Game Fish" (detail) by Larry Fuente