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Visitors to the Museum, Lower Main Hall, looking east
photograph, ca. 1867.
Smithsonian Institution, neg. 60-144-A.
The visitors in this 1867 photograph posed in the center of a newly decorated Lower Main Hall. Although fire had ravaged the upper part of the building in 1865, the Lower Main Hall was relatively untouched as a result of the fireproof construction adopted after 1850.
Repairing water damage in the Lower Main Hall gave architect Adolf Cluss the opportunity to enhance the walls and ceiling with delicate stencil work. Two large, portable stoves provided additional heat to this cavernous space, because Renwick’s original radiant wall hot-air system proved insufficient. The collection of the National Museum rapidly expanded to fill all the space available in the hall, necessitating the construction of new glass cases. By 1867, two tiers of cases had been erected across the east end.