Opening of the Renwick Gallery, 1972, by Albert J. Robinson. Smithsonian Institution Archives, Acc.11-009, Contact sheet no. 72-1946

Tips and Lessons from the Opening of the Renwick Gallery

In the midst of Smithsonian's busy season, we’re providing tips for visitors through the lens of photographs from the opening of the Renwick Gallery in 1972. 

At one of three opening night parties at the Renwick Gallery in January 1972, Smithsonian Secretary S. Dillon Ripley gave a toast. “The building itself is a monument to the craftsman of yesterday. We hope to make the exhibits very stylish shows of the arts people make for themselves even in this technological age.” 

And the opening parties were very stylish, indeed. However, many of the photographs do not necessarily provide good examples of the best ways to explore our museums today. 

Since this time of the year (mid-March to late-July) is when Smithsonian museums are bustling with visitors, we thought showing off photographs from the Renwick Gallery's opening events alongside helpful tips might be a fun way to help visitors navigate through museums this season. But before you call the collections care police, please note that smoking in museums and other rules were quite different in 1972.

1. Please refrain from smoking in museums, including e-cigarettes. 

Guests at the opening reception of the Renwick Gallery, 1972, by Albert J. Robinson. Smithsonian Institution Archives, Acc, 11-009, Contact sheet no. 72-1947.

Guests sit and chat at the opening of the Renwick Gallery, 1972, by Albert J. Robinson. Smithsonian Institution Archives, Acc. 11-009, Contact sheet no. 72-1949.

2. Please don’t touch the collections (unless the signage invites you to, of course!). 

Renwick Administrator Lloyd E. Herman examines the work of Wendell Castle at the opening of the Renwick Gallery, 1972, by Dick Mowry. Smithsonian Institution Archives, Acc. 11-009, Image no. 72-1961-06

Guests examine the woodworking section at the opening of the Renwick Gallery, 1972, by Dick Mowry, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Acc. 11-009, Contact sheet no. 72-1960

3. Please keep any beverages far away from the objects. Most Smithsonian museums do permit bottled water!

A group of women sit together at the opening of the Renwick Gallery, 1972, by Dick Mowry. Smithsonian Institution Archives, Acc. 11-009, Contact sheet no. 72-1957

Guests view artworks on display at the opening of the Renwick Gallery, 1972, by Dick Mowry. Smithsonian Institution Archives, Acc. 11-009, Contact sheet no. 72-1957

A group stands together at the opening of the Renwick Gallery, 1972, by Dick Mowry. Smithsonian Institution Archives, Acc. 11-009, Contact sheet no. 72-1957

4. Please do pose for photographs in the museum where photography is encouraged. We also love when visitors tag our museum accounts or use our hashtags on social media. This shot should get a #RenwickGallery for sure.

A man stands and leans next to a painting. Another man holds a camera to his eye and points the came

5. Please consider packing as lightly as you are able. The following museums require visitors to walk through metal detectors: National Air and Space Museum and its Udvar-Hazy Center, National Museum of African American History and Culture, National Museum of American History, National Museum of Natural History, National Postal Museum, and the National Museum of the American Indian. 

A woman poses for a photograph at the opening of the Renwick Gallery, 1972, by Dick Mowry. Smithsonian Institution Archives, Acc. 11-009, Contact sheet no. 72-1959

Guests at the opening of the Renwick Gallery, 1972, by Dick Mowry. Smithsonian Institution Archives, Acc. 11-009, Contact sheet no. 72-1959

Guests at the opening of the Renwick Gallery, 1972, by Dick Mowry. Smithsonian Institution Archives, Acc. 11-009, Contact sheet no. 72-1959

6. Please do engage in thoughtful and respectful conversations with those in your group. Hearing visitors discuss exhibits or objects is music to our ears.

Guests sit and talk at the opening of the Renwick Gallery, 1972, by Dick Mowry. Smithsonian Institution Archives, Acc. 11-009, Contact sheet no. 72-1956

Guests talk at the opening of the Renwick Gallery, 1972, by Dick Mowry. Smithsonian Institution Archives, Acc. 11-009, Contact sheet no. 72-1960

7. Avoid the crowds by arriving early on weekends and later in the day during the week. It's also best to start on the top floors of the museums and work your way down.

A large crowd of people gathers at an entry way in a building. They are wearing formal attire

8. And this one might go without saying, but please don't hide in our plants.

A man and woman sit in chairs. The man is partly covered by a large plant.  

For more helpful tips and guidelines, head to the Smithsonian's website.

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