chels albright

PLACES: Renwick Gallery

WASHINGTON DCChels | PLACES studioComment

The Renwick Gallery is part of the Smithsonian American Art museum and highlights contemporary craft and decorative art. It has been closed for nearly two-years for a major renovation and just recently re-opened!

I went to see the new exhibit Wonder on the opening weekend and it was filled! The work was truly amazing and my impression was summed up nicely by this quote posted on the wall

 "The only reason for bringing together works of art in a public place is that... they produce in us a kind of exalted happiness. For a moment there is a clearing in the jungle: we pass on refreshed, with our capacity for life increased and some memory of the sky." Kenneth Clark, 1954.


Here's a little bit about the building itself. It is a National Historic Landmark and the museum was named after the architect, James Renwick Jr. who also built the Smithsonian Castle in Washington, DC. The building is known as Second Empire Architecture which was unique during its time and was even called "The American Louvre" because of Renwick's French inspirations. Originally the museum was to house William Wilson Corcoran's collection of American Art and after his collection was moved, there were many plans to have the building demolished. It was Jacqueline Kennedy how campaigned to save the Renwick Gallery in 1962. She succeeded (wahoo!) and wrote “It may look like a Victorian horror, but it is really quite a lovely and precious example of the period of architecture which is fast disappearing. I so strongly feel that the White House should give the example in preserving our nation’s past.” 


Wonder will be fully open until May 8,2016 when the second floor closes and the first floor until July 10,2016.

If you have a chance, it is an amazing exhibit that will leave you in awe. If you've been, let me know what you thought! Which was your favorite? I think Gabriel Dawe's color install was breathtaking and the John Grade's tree has has an interesting connection, it's a mold of a tree that is the same age as the museum!
-chels