The Henry Statue: About-Face

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Discusses placement of William Wetmore Story's bronze statue of first Smithsonian Secretary Joseph Henry. At the time of its dedication in 1883, the statue was located on the Mall at the intersection of three carriage paths, about 150 feet northwest of the Smithsonian Building. When the Mall was reconfigured in 1934, the statue was moved to its present location just to the north of the Castle's central entrance. Secretary Charles Greeley Abbot approved facing the statue toward the building, an irony since from the beginning Henry had opposed its being built. In 1965 Henry's statue was rotated to face the Mall. Secretary S. Dillon Ripley stated the action was taken so Henry might see the huge museum complex he had begun in the previous century.


  • Story, William Wetmore 1819-1895
  • Ripley, Sidney Dillon 1913-2001
  • Abbot, C. G (Charles Greeley) b. 1872
  • Henry, Joseph 1797-1878
  • United States National Museum
  • Smithsonian Institution Building (Washington, D.C.)


Smithsonian Institution History Bibliography


Article includes photograph of the Henry statue.

Contained within

Smithsonian Preservation Quarterly (Newsletter)

Contact information

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


Winter 1995


  • Secretaries
  • Joseph Henry Statue


Mall, The (Washington, D.C.)

Physical description

pgs. 3 & 4

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