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West Range Lower Main Hall Upper Main Hall East Wing West Wing Joseph Henry Apartments
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CLICK ON THE ELEVATION TO ENTER A NEW SECTION OF THE CASTLE

In the original floor plan for the Smithsonian building, both the West Wing and the West Range were destined to hold a gallery of art. Although the West Wing derived its form from ecclesiastical models, with its rounded apse, it was never intended to function as a chapel. Robert Dale Owen explained the striking architectural contrast between the East and West Wings of the building in Hints on Public Architecture by stating that the west end, "intended to contain a Gallery of Art, intimates, by its lighter proportions and airier forms, the spirit, more of grace and ornament, of its destination." By 1848, however, when the exterior of the West Wing and Range was completed, plans were already in progress to house within it the growing library collections instead.