Published: January 12, 2021
By Greg Smith
WASHINGTON, DC – Following a riot on Wednesday, January 6, where supporters of President Trump stormed the Capitol Building, officials from the Architect of the Capitol office, who oversee the architecture of the building and the art collection therein, have begun to assess the damage.
The office’s communications manager, Erin Courtney, told Antiques and The Arts Weekly, “Once cleared to inspect the building by security personnel, multiple Architect of the Capitol damage assessment teams were dispatched to evaluate and document the damage. Our initial assessment is that most of the damage on the interior and envelope of the building is limited to broken glass, broken doors and graffiti. On the West Front, the teams identified graffiti on the building near the Inaugural Stands and two broken Olmsted light fixtures. There was also significant amounts of trash and debris. Statues, murals, historic benches and original shutters all suffered varying degrees of damage – primarily from pepper spray accretions and residue from tear gas and fire extinguishers – that will require cleaning and conservation.”
Installed by Frederick Law Olmsted in 1936, the 21-foot-tall historic bronze street lamps number to 174 and line the National Mall as they lead to the Capitol Building.
Paintings in the rotunda include four Revolutionary period scenes by John Trumbull and four additional works of early exploration by John Vanderlyn, William Powell, John Chapman and Robert Weir. Statues and busts in the rotunda include a copy of a statue of George Washington by Antoine Houdon as well as a statue of Lincoln by Vinnie Ream, the first woman artist to receive a government commission. Other statues include those depicting Eisenhower, Garfield, Grant, Jackson, Jefferson, Reagan and Ford. Many other works grace the various halls and other rooms throughout the building.
A Nineteenth Century marble bust of Zachary Taylor was among the works found defaced. A smear of what appeared to be blood was rubbed across his face.
“Over the years, the AOC has assembled a team of highly specialized professionals to treat and maintain the Capitol’s historic fabric and artworks,” Courtney said. “In the coming weeks and months, we will be addressing repair needs throughout the building to ensure that the Capitol will continue to appropriately inspire future generations.”
For additional information, www.aoc.gov.
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