Interior and Exterior of Patent Office Building 1891

ID: SIA2007-0134

Creator: Meeker, E. J

Form/Genre: Engraving

Date: 1891

Citation: Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 285, Box 26, Folder: 3

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  • Engraving shows interior and exterior views of the Patent Office Building. The view of the exterior is in the upper left hand corner and shows flags atop two entrances. People are strolling outside. The Old Patent Office building is a Greek Revival structure built by Robert Mills between 1836 and 1866. It was designed to display the models that inventors submitted with their patent applications and also provided space for exhibits of public interest beyond patent models.
  • The inside view of an exhibit gallery shows exhibit cases, sculptures, paintings, and visitors. A man sits at a desk reading. The National Institute for the Promotion of Science collections were exhibited there from the 1840s to 1883. Their collections were transferred to the Smithsonian in 1858 and 1883 and became the core of its museums. The building was transferred to the Smithsonian Institution in 1958. In 1968 Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM) and National Portrait Gallery (NPG) collections were moved to the old Patent Office Building which was named the Fine Arts and Portrait Galleries (FA & PG). In 1981, the FA & PG Building was renamed the American Art and Portrait Galleries.


  • Mills, Robert 1781-1855
  • National Institute for the Promotion of Science
  • Patent Office Building (POB)
  • American Art and Portrait Galleries
  • Smithsonian American Art Museum
  • Fine Arts and Portrait Galleries Building (FA&PG)
  • National Portrait Gallery (U.S.)


Historic Images of the Smithsonian


From Harper's Weekly, April 11, 1891, Volume XXXV, No. 1790, page 268, drawn by E. J. Meeker after photographs by Bell, Washington, D.C.

Contained within

Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 285, Box 26, Folder: 3

Contact information

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



Restrictions & Rights

No restrictions


  • Museum buildings
  • Patents
  • Art
  • Sculpture
  • Architecture
  • Models (representations)
  • Exhibitions
  • Museums
  • Art objects
  • Museum visitors
  • Patent Models


Washington (D.C.)


  • Engraving
  • Interior

ID Number


Physical description

Color: Black and White; Size: 10w x 8h; Type of Image: Interior; Medium: Engraving

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