SMITHSONIAN GALLERY OF ART

In 1939 Washington was the scene of the most heated architectural battle in the country.  The competition for what would have been Washington’s MOMA attracted more than 400 entries and ten finalists with Saarinen’s team (father, son and son-in-law) as the unanimous winner.  The result precipitated a clash between modernists and classicists and the debate spread far beyond the Mall.  Reflecting the aspirations of New Deal America, the Smithsonian Gallery of Art Competition represented a culmination of the brief but direct involvement of the Federal government in the arts.

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 The project encapsulates more than the expected saga of unbuilt buildings and its influence far outweighs that of many structures.  It remains to this day a significant episode in the chronicles of modern architecture and part of the collective memory of 20th century architects

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