Ron Cunningham at Work in Children's Room

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Ron Cunningham, senior painting conservator at the Conservation Analytical Lab, chipping away layers of paint and plaster on the ceiling of the Smithsonian Institution Building's, the Castle's, south tower to reveal a mural painted to look like a vine-covered arbor, with patches of cloud-filled blue sky beyond. The original painting was part of a whole design concept initiated by third Secretary of the Smithsonian, 1887-1906, Samuel P. Langley in 1899, when he was making the room into a children's museum. The room was being restored in preparation for the opening of the south tower door to the public when the construction of the Quadrangle was complete.


  • Conservation Analytical Laboratory (CAL)
  • Smithsonian Institution Building (Washington, D.C.)
  • Smithsonian Institution Building Children's Room
  • Smithsonian Institution Building South Towers
  • Museum Conservation Institute


Historic Images of the Smithsonian


Featured in the "Torch," November 1985; Also in Field, Stamm, and Ewing, The Smithsonian Institution Building, 1993, p. 132

Contained within

Smithsonian Institution Archives Record Unit 371, Box 4, Folder: November 1985

Contact information

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



Restrictions & Rights

No restrictions


  • Conservation and restoration
  • Mural painting and decoration
  • Cunningham, Ron
  • Children's museums
  • African Americans


  • Photographic print
  • Person, candid

ID Number


Physical description

Color: Black and White; Size: 10w x 8h; Type of Image: Person, candid; Medium: Photographic print

Full Record

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