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Architecture on the Nation’s Front Lawn

Evening Program on Zoom

Wednesday, April 14, 2021 - 6:30 p.m. ET
Code: 1NV049
$25 - Member
$30 - Non-Member

Arts and Industries building (Photo: Eric Long/Smithsonian)


The 1791 plan for Washington, D.C.’s National Mall envisioned a grand “public walk.” By 1900, that plan had been stymied, ignored, and overlooked. The far-reaching and critically influential McMillan Plan of 1902 reinterpreted the ceremonial core of the city, and much of what we see today on the Mall reflects that vision.

Join speaker Bill Keene, a lecturer in history, urban studies, and architecture, on a virtual tour and discover the Mall’s history, design, and architecture, from its earliest vision to the latest developments. Learn what happened to the museum park, the railroad station and its tracks, why the Mall does not align with compass directions, and other little-known facts.

Study a wide range of architectural styles as you view the Smithsonian’s buildings—from the first permanent structure, the 1846 Castle, to the newest museum—as well as the National Gallery of Art and the Department of Agriculture. Compare diverse historical styles, ranging from the gothic-revival Castle to the exuberant Victorian Arts and Industries Building to the beaux-arts classicism of the Natural History Museum. Compare the various interpretations of modernism expressed in the American History Museum, Air and Space Museum, Hirshhorn, and the sinuous curves of the American Indian Museum, as well as the rich symbolism of the latest addition to the Mall, the Museum of African American History and Culture. The tour concludes with a look at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial designed by architect Frank Gehry, dedicated in May 2020.

World Art History Certificate elective: Earn 1/2 credit*


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*Enrolled participants in the World Art History Certificate Program receive 1/2 elective credit. Not yet enrolled? Learn about the program, its benefits, and how to register here.

This program is part of our
Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.