Renwick Gallery Celebrates Grand Reopening

November 13, 2015

Gabriel Dawe, Plexus A1, 2015. One of 9 installations in the Renwick's new exhibition, WONDER

The Renwick Gallery, home to the Smithsonian American Art Museum's collection of contemporary craft and decorative art, reopened November 13th after a major two-year renovation, which preserved the unique character of its National Historic Landmark building and created a 21st-century destination. The museum's collection is one of the finest and most extensive of its kind.

The $30 million project was funded through a public-private partnership. Renovation was supported in part by a Save America's Treasures grant administered by the National Park Service. With matching support from federal appropriations, the museum raised generous private gifts.

David Rubenstein, a Smithsonian Regent and co-chair of the Smithsonian Campaign, was the lead donor and the Renwick's Grand Salon is named in honor of his mother, Bettie Rubenstein. Other named spaces recognize Nancy Brown Negley, the Robert H. Smith Foundation, the Bresler Foundation Inc., Debbie Frank Petersen, Hacker and Kitty Caldwell, Seila Duignan and Mike Wilkins, the Ted Slavin Family, the James Renwick Alliance and Wendy and Jerry H. Labowitz, among others. The museum received 35 gifts of $100,000 or more.

The Renwick is the nation's first purpose-built art museum. Designed by architect James Renwick Jr., it was constructed in 1859 to "encourage American genius" and hailed as the "American Louvre."

The museum's reopening exhibition, WONDER, features site-specific, original gallery-sized installations by nine contemporary artists, including Maya Lin, Leo Villareal and Gabriel Dawe (image above).

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