Smithsonian curator to discuss renovation, exhibit



BAR HARBOR — Curator Helen Bechtel will discuss plans for the Arts and Industries Building at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. Aug. 20 at 9 a.m. at College of the Atlantic. The Arts and Industries Building is set to re-open with a special exhibit as part of the Smithsonian’s upcoming 175th anniversary celebration.

COA trustee Beth Gardiner will join Bechtel for the Coffee and Conversation event, which is free and open to the public and will be held in Deering Common.

The Arts and Industries Building has a special role among Smithsonian buildings. It opened in 1881 and is the second-oldest of the Smithsonian museums on the National Mall. It was initially named the National Museum.

In 2006, the Arts and Industries Building was named as one of America’s Most Endangered Places by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the building was closed due to its deteriorating condition. In 2009, funding for restoration was assigned through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and the building has been undergoing renovations since.

It reopened for special events in the fall of 2015 and has hosted several activities, including the Asian Pacific American Center’s “Crosslines Culture Lab” and “The Long Conversation.”

Bechtel is an architect and independent curator who specializes in bringing installation architecture and contemporary design into innovative museum exhibitions. She has practiced at architecture firms in New York and Washington, D.C. She has collaborated with the curatorial departments of design at the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and the Cooper Hewitt, the Smithsonian’s New York-based design museum.

She is an adjunct professor at the Corcoran School of the Arts & Design at George Washington University. She has a master’s degree in architecture from Yale and a bachelor’s degree in urban studies from Stanford.

All parking on campus is by permit only for the summer of 2019. Contact Wes Norton at 801-5627 or [email protected] to obtain a permit.

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