Graphical timeline from Smithson to Smithsonian
From Smithson to Smithsonian - The Birth of an InstitutionThe Smithsonian Building

Who Was James Smithson?
Sccepting Smithson's Gift
All-American Compromise
The Smithsonian Building
An Institution Emerges
A National Collection
Smithson's Legacy

The Regents' Room

Once the Smithsonian Building opened in 1855, the Smithsonian's Board of Regents, an appointed governing body, conducted business in a room designed by the architect James Renwick, Jr., as a complement to the building's medieval revival design.
The Regents' Room
The Regents' Room


A narrow but lofty space, the Regents' Room of the new Smithsonian Building featured a 9-meter- (30-foot-) high vaulted Gothic ceiling.
Regents' Room Chair
The Regents' Chair


Renwick also designed a massive table and stately armchairs for this room. The chairs featured distinctive Gothic carvings that evoked the building's exterior stonework. Nine of the original eighteen Regents' Room chairs survive.

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