900 Jefferson Drive SW, Washington, DC.
The building is located on the National Mall, between the Smithsonian Castle and the Hirshhorn Museum. See a map of the National Mall.
Renovation UpdateThe Smithsonian and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office have formed a collaboration to develop a new Innovation Pavilion at the Arts and Industries Building. The building is scheduled to reopen in summer 2014. It will be a center for active learning, engaging visitors using digital technology and informing them about new developments in American innovation and technology. The interior space will not be completely finished in 2014 because the permanent use of the building is uncertain. Plans for Arts and Industries Building are considered temporary as the Smithsonian awaits final disposition of the proposed National Museum of the American Latino, whose commission has recommended the building as a possible location of the new museum.
History of the Arts and Industries BuildingOn March 4, 1881, seven months before the building opened to the public, the Arts and Industries Building was used for the inaugural ball of President James Abram Garfield and Vice President Chester A. Arthur. The ground floor was initially dedicated to a wide range of exhibits including geology, taxidermy and animal exhibits, ethnology, comparative technology, navigation, architecture, musical instruments and historic artifacts. In 1910, many of the collections were moved to the new US National Museum, now known as the National Museum of Natural History.
For the next 50 years, the Arts and Industries Building showcased American history, and history of science and technology collections. Notable artificacts were the Star Spangled Banner, the Spirit of St. Louis, and the first display of the First Ladies Dresses. In 1964, the remaining historical collections were moved to the new Museum of History and Technology, now the National Museum of American History, and the National Air Museum took over the rest of the building. The Air Museum remained in the building until its own building opened in 1976.
The Arts and Industries Building was closed from 1974 to 1976 for renovation and reopened with 1876: A Centennial Exhibition, which displayed many of the original objects from the Philadelphia Centennial. In 1979, the Discovery Theater, began producing programming for a young audience in the building. In 1981, an experimental sensory garden for handicapped visitors was developed on the east side of the building, and in 1988 it was renovated and named the Mary Livingston Ripley Garden. In 2006, the building was closed due to its deteriorating condition. In 2009, it received funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, and is currently undergoing renovation.