The Renwick Gallery stands across from the home of Washington’s most famous inhabitants, a hidden gem in plain sight on the cusp of Lafayette Square. Many unknowing tourists enter in pursuit of public bathrooms; they leave after seeing Larry Fuente’s “Game Fish.” The Smithsonian announced this week that the small gallery dedicated to American decorative arts and crafts will close its doors for a massive renovation in early 2014.
The Renwick has become an increasingly popular destination — it hosted a record 175,000 visitors in 2012 — and is in need of structural renovations to accommodate the foot traffic. The two-year project will be the first renovation of the museum in 40 years and will restore historic features of the 154-year-old building.
“Most of the infrastructure systems were built in 1968 and 1972,” said Elizabeth Broun, director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. “We want to renew the building for the next 40 years.”