Blue Line Orange Line
Experience Civil War Photography: From the Home Front to the Battlefront
Learn how Americans personally experienced the Civil War through photographs of the era. Stereo-view photographs, viewing devices, and 3-D images created from the photos (glasses provided) are on view to explore this new and innovative technology of 150 years ago. A camera, glass-slide negatives, and a video reveal how the photographs were created.
The photographs are divided into the following three sections:
- Smithsonian Castle; Washington, DC; and the National Mall
- Beginnings of American photojournalism and battlefield photography
- Homefront experience through photography
No photography permitted
Note: This exhibition may be closed to the public occassionally for special events.
Featured Areas: Children's Room, The Commons, and Schermer Hall
• Children's Room: (First Floor, South Entrance, Independence Avenue)
The Children's Room -- with the theme "Knowledge Begins in Wonder" -- was installed in the south tower of the Castle in 1901 and featured natural history exhibitions for children. The original decorative scheme by designer Grace Lincoln Temple was restored in the mid-1980s.
• The Commons: (First Floor, West Wing)
The Commons, in the 19th-century Gothic Revival architectural style, features a soaring, groin-vaulted ceiling, elaborate corbels, a ribbed-vaulted apse, and a rose window on the south wall. Encircling the room are 28 walnut exhibit cases built in 1871 and refurbished in July 2004 with selected objects representing the Smithsonian's collections (for details, see permanent exhibition The Smithsonian Institution: America's Treasure Chest). A dining facility operated in the room for many years; it closed in June 2004. For a brief history of the room, click here.
• Schermer Hall: (First Floor, West Wing)
Schermer Hall, named for Smithsonian donors Lloyd G. and Betty A. Schermer, is in the Romanesque Revival style with clerestory windows, rounded arches, and a barrel-vaulted ceiling. Furnishings from the Castle Collection include a pair of Rococo Revival gilded mirrors that belonged to Simon Cameron, Secretary of War (1860-1862) under President Lincoln; a pair of Renaissance Revival armchairs (c. 1860) that belonged to Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of War (1862-1867) under Presidents Lincoln and Grant; and Georgian Revival tables (c. 1910) in mahogany and verdi marble with classically carved motifs, including anthemion and acanthus leaves and guilloche (running dog) borders. Also in this room is a small panel display on the history of the west wing; for details, see the permanent display The West Wing: A Chronology. For a brief history of the room, click here.
• Great Hall: See Smithsonian Information Center.
• Smithson's Crypt: See separate listing.
1st Floor, North Entrance (Jefferson Drive)
The final resting place of the Institution's benefactor, James Smithson (1765-1829), is a small chapel-like room located at the north entrance to the Castle. An exhibit cases contain a few of Smithson's personal effects. A panel explains how Smithson's remains came to the United States in 1904 and the Smithsonian's plans to build a memorial to him.
For more information about James Smithson, click here.
Smithsonian Information Center
- An information desk, serving the public and Smithsonian Associate members, which is staffed by volunteers from 8:30 AM-4 PM daily.
- A scale model of Washington's monumental core.
- Smithson's Gift showcase (provides information on the history of the Institution).
- A tactile map of the Washington's monumental core with Braille labels
For a brief history of the Great Hall, click here.