Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Letter to the Secretary, Smithsonian Institution, on the Transfer to the Institution of the Original Corcoran Gallery of Art.

June 23, 1965

Dear Dr. Ripley:

I am enthusiastic about your suggestion that the Smithsonian Institution take over the old U.S. Court of Claims Building and establish it as a gallery of arts, crafts and design.

No more appropriate purpose for the building could be proposed than to exhibit, in the restored gallery, examples of the ingenuity of our people and to present exhibits from other nations, whose citizens are so proud of their arts.

I would hope that tours of this Gallery might play a memorable part in the official Washington visits of foreign heads of State, offering them not only a glimpse of our art but an opportunity to enjoy the friendliness and hospitality of our people.

I have therefore approved your recommendation, and am instructing Mr. Lawson Knott, Administrator of the General Services Administration, to transfer the building to the Smithsonian Institution under existing authority. This is contingent, of course, upon your obtaining authorization for the funds necessary to renovate the building for use as a gallery.

With kindest regards,

Sincerely,

LYNDON B. JOHNSON

[Dr. S. Dillon Ripley, Secretary, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.]

Note: Excerpts of the letter were made public as part of a White House release which stated that the president's letter was in reply to a suggestion by Dr. Ripley that the building, which was occupied by the Corcoran Gallery from 1869 until 1897, be restored to use as an art gallery. The building was designed by James Renwick, architect of the original Smithsonian Institution building, and was acquired by the United States in 1901.

The release noted that the project would be undertaken as part of the renovation of the Lafayette Square area.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Letter to the Secretary, Smithsonian Institution, on the Transfer to the Institution of the Original Corcoran Gallery of Art. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/241723

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