Larger Type
Smaller Type

The Renwick Gallery

Renwick Gallery Reopens November 13, 2015

Renwick reopening graphics

The Renwick Gallery, home to the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s craft and decorative arts program, reopens to the public on Friday, November 13 following a major two-year renovation. A reopening exhibition titled WONDER, featuring nine major contemporary artists, a celebratory weekend of public programs, and three special publications will accompany the reopening.

Sign Up for Renwick Updates

Opening Events

Renwick Gallery

Dedicated to Art

The Renwick Gallery was the first building in America built expressly for the purpose of showcasing great works of art to the public; the words “Dedicated to Art” are inscribed above the gallery’s front entry.

“The Renwick Gallery is the capital city’s first museum. This elegant historic building, our branch museum for American craft and decorative arts, was called the ‘American Louvre’ when it first opened, and it symbolized the nation’s aspirations for a great civilization and a place among the great nations of the world.”

- Elizabeth Broun, The Margaret and Terry Stent Director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and Renwick Gallery

New Enhancements

The museum successfully transitioned to an all-LED lighting system, a major goal of the renovation. Museum staff has worked with the lighting industry since 2012 to develop brighter, more precise LED lights specifically for the Renwick.

Installation of wireless systems throughout the building enables capabilities for both artist installations and visitor interpretation.

A custom-designed rug by Parisian architect Odille Decq in her trademark red greets visitors as it flows down the grand stair to pool at the lobby foyer.

Metal artist Marc Maiorana, who first appeared in the Renwick’s 40 under 40 exhibition, crafted striking metal elements for the first floor.

Construction Progress

Renwick Gallery

Consigli Construction Co., Inc. was the general construction contractor.

Renwick Gallery

Construction crews revealed a long-concealed ceiling vault.

This project marks the first comprehensive renovation to the building in 40 years. Westlake Reed Leskosky is the lead architectural design and engineering firm and Consigli Construction Co., Inc. is the general construction contractor. Both firms are recognized leaders in working with museums and historic buildings. Funding for the renovation is a 50-50 public-private partnership.

Renovation Highlights

Highlights of the interior and exterior renovation of the National Historic Landmark building include restoration of original vaulted ceilings on the second floor, re-creation of the building’s original window configuration, salvage and repair of original moldings and wainscoting, preservation of historic finishes, replacement of all heating, air conditioning, electrical, plumbing and fire-suppression systems, upgrades to security, phone and data communication systems, reconfiguration of the building’s basement for curator and staff offices, and upgraded art storage facilities, as well as external brick repointing, stucco repair, and roof replacement.

Learn more about the architectural history of the Renwick Gallery.


Three special publications will accompany the reopening.

  • American Louvre, A History of the Renwick Gallery Building
    by Charles Robertson
    Published by the Smithsonian American Art Museum in association with D Giles, Ltd
  • Craft for a Modern World, The Renwick Gallery Collection
    by Nora Atkinson
    Published by the Smithsonian American Art Museum in association with D Giles, Ltd
    by Nicholas Bell
    Published by the Smithsonian American Art Museum in association with D Giles, Ltd


A new installation of artworks from the Renwick’s permanent collection opens seven months after the building reopens on July 1, 2016, highlighting new acquisitions and updating the presentation of crafts and decorative arts for the 21st century.