U.S. National Museum Decorated for Garfield Inaugural Ball

ID: MAH66045 or 66045

Creator: Unknown

Form/Genre: Photographic print

Date: 1881

Citation: Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 95, Box 32, Folder: 10

Usage Conditions Apply
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The West Hall looking towards the Rotunda of the new United States National Museum, now the Arts and Industries Building, decorated for President James A. Garfield and Vice President Chester A. Arthur's Inaugural Ball, March 4, 1881. This was the first event held in the new building, before the exhibits were installed. A temporary wooden floor was laid for the event, two electric lights were placed in the Rotunda, 10,000 bins for hats and coats were erected, 3,000 gas lights were installed, and festive buntings, state flags and seals decorated the halls. A colossal "Statue of America" stood in the Rotunda, illustrative of peace, justice and liberty, grasping in her uplifted hand an electric light "indicative of the skill, genius, progress, and civilization" of America in the 19th century. The stencil work in the Rotunda can be seen. The building opened to the public in October 1881.


  • Arthur, Chester Alan 1829-1886
  • Garfield, James A (James Abram) 1831-1881
  • Arts and Industries Building
  • United States National Museum
  • United States President
  • United States President (1881 : Garfield)
  • Statue of America (Statue)


Historic Images of the Smithsonian

Contained within

Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 95, Box 32, Folder: 10

Contact information

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



Restrictions & Rights

No restrictions


  • Ceilings
  • Electric lighting
  • Flags
  • Statues
  • Garfield Inaugural Ball
  • Rotundas
  • Museum buildings
  • Electricity
  • Inaugurations
  • Openings
  • Inaugural Balls
  • Museum openings
  • Stencil work
  • Bunting (Cloth)
  • Presidents
  • Event


  • Photographic print
  • Interior
  • Event

ID Number

MAH66045 or 66045

Physical description

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

Full Record

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