A massive brick structure adjacent to the iconic Castle, the Arts and Industries Building has been shuttered since 2004, when renovations began. First opened in 1881, it had been included as one of the most endangered historic sites in the United States by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
The building was not included in the proposed master plan unveiled in December that will remake a large part of the Smithsonian buildings around the Castle, a decision criticized by many. At the time, officials said it had been targeted for a proposed Latino Museum and therefore was not included in the design.
On Monday, Horvath said those plans remain uncertain. “We don’t know, we just don’t know,” he said.
As a result, “modest” interior work, including bathrooms, heating and cooling systems, and painting, will be finished before the fall. Hovath said about 40 percent of the footprint would be used.
“We’ve stabilized the building itself, and we want to get activity back in there,” he said.
Horvath, who is serving as acting secretary until July 1, when incoming secretary David Skorton arrives, and regent John McCarter also provided updates on the $1.5 billion joint fundraising campaign and discussions with London officials to open the first Smithsonian gallery in another country. Horvath said officials have raised about $130 million since the formal announcement in October, bringing the total to $1.1 billion. The campaign continues through 2017.
McCarter said that discussions continue with London developers about opening a gallery in a new cultural complex to be created at the former Olympic Park but that no formal agreement had been reached. No other decisions – including programs or personnel – will be made before that document is signed. In January, Smithsonian officials announced they were pursuing a plan to open their first gallery outside of the United States. A tentative opening is set for 2021.