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Originally published Tuesday, February 19, 2013 at 1:54 PM

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Smithsonian plans overhaul of DC's Renwick Gallery

The Smithsonian American Art Museum plans to close its Renwick Gallery near the White House next year for its first major renovation in 40 years.

The Associated Press

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WASHINGTON —

The Smithsonian American Art Museum plans to close its Renwick Gallery near the White House next year for its first major renovation in 40 years.

The museum announced Tuesday that the historic building would reopen in 2016. The Smithsonian says it plans to replace the National Historic Landmark's infrastructure and enhance its historic features with modern upgrades.

Museum Director Elizabeth Broun says the Renwick was Washington's first structure built as a museum. It was designed in 1859, originally as a public museum for William Corcoran's private art collection. It was called the "American Louvre" when it opened, symbolizing the nation's aspirations.

Congress proposed razing the building in 1956, but first lady Jacqueline Kennedy led a campaign to save it. The Renwick housed the Smithsonian's craft and decorative arts since 1972.

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