Smithsonian’s Carousel To Be Removed From National Mall for Renovations

It Will Return to the Same Location in Time for the Nation’s 250th Anniversary Celebration in 2026
August 21, 2023
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Photo: Casey McAdams, Smithsonian

The carousel on the National Mall, located in front of the Smithsonian’s Arts and Industries Building on Jefferson Drive S.W., will be removed in November for renovation. The work will include repairing carousel animals, replacing the platform and updating the paving and underground electrical connections. The carousel is operated by the Smithsonian Enterprises, a division of the Smithsonian Institution; the National Mall is administered by the National Park Service.

The carousel will be repaired and refurbished to its original grandeur, and the updated infrastructure will not alter the carousel’s appearance.

A carousel was first installed on the National Mall in 1967 when then-Smithsonian Secretary S. Dillon Ripley wanted to enliven th e Mall as a "living extension" of the museums. The original carousel was replaced in 1981 with the current carousel.

Built in 1947, the current carousel was first operated in Gwynn Oak Amusement Park in Baltimore. The amusement park became the focus of desegregation activists in the Baltimore area during the Civil Rights Movement. After years of protest, the park and carousel were desegregated Aug. 28, 1963, the day of the historic March on Washington.

For many years, a small family company owned and operated the carousel as a concession for Smithsonian Enterprises. The Smithsonian purchased it in December 2022.

The carousel will be shipped to Carousels and Carvings in Marion, Ohio, where the animals and structure will be repaired and refurbished to their original appearances. In addition, the carousel’s electrical connections and paving will also be updated to ensure safe operation once the carousel returns to the National Mall. It will be up and running at the same location for the United States’ 250th anniversary celebration in 2026.

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Linda St. Thomas

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Alexandria Fairchild

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