Rats. The Arts and Industries Building remains closed to the public, despite near completion of an extensive, decade-long renovation. Funds needed to add climate control and other maintenance-related essentials are better put toward other Smithsonian projects, say Smithsonian officials. It’s about priorities and tight budgets. Well, you can still admire the building’s exterior, now that scaffolding has been removed. Completed in 1881 just in time to host President James Garfield’s inaugural ball, this red-brick and sandstone structure was the first Smithsonian museum on the Mall, and the first U.S. National Museum. More recently, from 1976 to the mid-1990s, it housed exhibits from the 1876 U.S. International Exposition in Philadelphia—a celebration of America’s centennial that featured the latest advances in technology.
Weather permitting, a 19th-century carousel operates across the street on the Mall.