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Smithsonian Institution Castle: Schermer Hall

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Uploaded on Nov 2, 2009

Rooms in the Castle have changed in form, function and name over the years. During the fireproofing of the West Range, the Gothic-style columns were replaced. The new Romanesque architectural interpretation is evident in the columns and capitals in Schermer Hall dating from the 1880s, a time when the Aesthetic style, which favored plain materials and surfaces, emerged. The Aesthetic style was a reaction to the perceived opulence and over-ornamentation of the Rococo Revival style popular in the decorative arts of the time. The west end of the building includes the West Range, re-named Schermer Hall in the mid-1990s, and the Commons beyond it. Planners envisioned the entire west end as an art gallery, which accounts for the high ceilings and abundant natural light in both Schermer Hall and the Commons. The plan for an art gallery in the west end of the building, however, was never realized. Instead, the spaces were used as a reading room and a library, which was installed in the Commons. After the library holdings were transferred to the Library of Congress in 1866, the rooms were converted into exhibition halls. Over the more than 100 years that followed, a variety of exhibits were on view in those rooms. From the 1960s on, the space now known as Schermer Hall has served primarily as a communal gathering space. It was named Schermer Hall in recognition of Lloyd G. and Betty A. Schermer, who established an endowment in 1994 through the Smithsonian Fund for the Future, and are founding members of the Smithsonian Legacy Society. Lloyd Schermer is an honorary member and past chair of the Smithsonian National Board. The Smithsonian Institution is a public/private partnership that relies heavily on the generous support of individuals, corporations and foundations. The membership desk in the Great Hall can assist you in understanding how you, too, can support America's museum.

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