Amazonian Tribal Art: The Head of the Smithsonian's Private Showcase

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  • Article concerns the Washington, D.C., apartment, owned by Smithsonian Institution Secretary Lawrence M. Small and his wife, that houses part of their extensive collection of Amazonian tribal art, one of the largest collections of that type in private hands. The Smalls accumulated hundreds of artifacts, including feathered headdresses, masks, spears and other objects, on trips to remote villages in north-central Brazil during the 1980's, when Small was a Citicorp executive overseeing its Latin American operations, in addition to buying from other collectors. The two-bedroom apartment was purchased by the Smalls in the late 1990's and extensively renovated by the architectural firm Adamstein & Demetriou to convert it into a combination gallery and livable pied-a-terre.
  • Three large open areas were created, plus a couple of smaller ones, including an adjoining room to serve as what Small termed his "retirement office," where he could catalog and study the collection, practice playing his flamenco guitar, and entertain friends at the end of a long career in banking and finance. After Small was appointed Smithsonian Secretary in January 2000, however, the apartment also became a venue for small Smithsonian-related lunches and dinners, as well as social occasions with family and friends. The author describes the decorating challenges faced by the architects and how they ultimately created a space with neutral architecture and colors to showcase the vivid hues and textures of the art works displayed throughout the apartment's living space.


  • Small, Lawrence M
  • Adamstein & Demetriou


Smithsonian Institution History Bibliography


Seven photographs accompany the article.

Contained within

Architectural Digest Vol. 57, No. 12 (Journal)

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20024-2520,


December 2000


  • Art
  • Secretariats
  • Interior architecture
  • Architects
  • Architecture
  • Secretaries
  • Collectors and collecting
  • Smithsonian Institution
  • Personnel management
  • Employees
  • Art, Private collections
  • Art--Collectors and collecting
  • Art, Brazilian
  • Architectural firms
  • Indians of South America
  • Smithsonian Institution--Employees


  • Brazil
  • Amazon River Region

Physical description

Number of pages: 4 ; Page numbers: 124-134

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