Construction of Corcoran Gallery of Art

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The Corcoran Gallery of Art is erected between 1859 and 1861 for William Wilson Corcoran's collecton of paintings and sculpture. Located at 17th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., it is designed by architect, James Renwick, Jr. In August 1861, the U.S. Army seizes the building to turn it into a warehouse for records and uniforms. In 1864 it becomes office space for Quartermaster General Montgomery Meigs. On May 10, 1869, the building is returned to Corcoran. Portions of the building are opened to visitors on January 19, 1874. A new Corcoran gallery building is erected and on December 3, 1899, the Government rents the original building to the U.S. Court of Claims. The Court moves out of the building in 1964. On June 23, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson approves the use of the building as a Smithsonian gallery of arts, crafts, and design.


  • Corcoran, W. W (William Wilson) 1798-1888
  • Johnson, Lyndon B (Lyndon Baines) 1908-1973
  • Meigs, Montgomery C (Montgomery Cunningham) 1816-1892
  • Renwick, James 1818-1895
  • Corcoran Gallery of Art
  • National Collection of Fine Arts)
  • National Museum of American Art (U.S.)
  • Renwick Gallery)
  • Smithsonian Gallery of Art
  • United States. Army
  • United States Court of Claims


Chronology of Smithsonian History


  • Sept. 30, 1971, "Chronology of the Renwick Gallery", News from the Office of Public Affairs, Smithsonian Institution. SI-162-71.
  • Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections, volume 18, number 329. "Journals of the Proceedings of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution 1846-76, Reports of Committees, Statistics, Etc." ed. by William J. Rhees. Washington: Published by the Smithsonian Institution, 1879., p. 163
  • Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 99, Box 222, Folder 2, "History of the Corcoran Gallery of Art"

Contact information

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




  • Architecture
  • Museums
  • Buildings
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  • Museum exhibits

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