Skip navigation
Share this page
Keyword  Search

Search By Categories

Search By Museum

Select: All, None

Exhibitions Home | Current | Upcoming | Past | Virtual

Featured Areas: Children's Room, The Commons, and Schermer Hall

– Permanent

Museum: Smithsonian Castle

Location: First Floor

Children's Room: (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, featuring wall stencils of interlaced birds and leaves, gold leaf moldings, and trompe l'oeil ceiling paintings of vines, clouds, and exotic birds, was restored in the mid-1980s.

The Commons: (West Wing; closed through September 30, 2013)
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: (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.

Related Smithsonian book: The Castle: An Illustrated History of the Smithsonian Building (2012)

The Commons and Schermer Hall will be closed all day Wednesday, July 23, 2014, and until after 3 p.m. on Thursday, July 24, 2014.