From the D.C.Docent:
In early 2014, the Renwick, home to the Smithsonian’s craft and decorative arts collection will close for its first major renovation in 40 years! I for one am utterly grateful, as every time I visit it feels so dowdy and sad inside. Even the amazing galleries on the first floor that showed Craft Futures: 40 Under 40 (a killer show), weren’t enough to overcome the tired upstairs salon and exhibition space.
The Renwick has a great history. It was originally designed by James Renwick Jr. at the behest of William Wilson Corcoran to house his collection in 1859 and then while construction was being completed in 1861 the Civil War broke out. Corcoran, who was a Confederate sympathizer, fled to Europe to wait out the war, while the federal government took the opportunity to use the building as a storehouse for Union supplies. Post-war it was returned to Corcoran and it opened to the public, as an art gallery in 1874.
When Corcoran’s collection eventually outgrew the space, and he had the Flagler building constructed down the street (the current location), the Renwick was used as the U.S. Court of Claims starting in 1899 through the 1950s when the federal government sought to have it demolished. In 1956 former First Lady Jackie Kennedy intervened and the Renwick was saved by President LBJ at which point it was taken over by the Smithsonian.
The Renwick will close in early 2014 and remain closed until some point in 2016.