WASHINGTON — The earliest known photo of the Smithsonian Castle, the Smithsonian’s first building, is going on display to celebrate the institution’s 169th birthday.
The Smithsonian says the photo went on display in the great hall of the Castle on Monday, which coincides with the day in 1846 that President James K. Polk signed legislation creating the institution. The image was taken in 1850 during the castle’s construction and shows the two completed wings of the building. A crane is visible, and only two of the building’s nine towers are complete.
The Castle currently houses the Smithsonian’s administrative headquarters. Its cornerstone was laid on May 1, 1847.
The image, a type of photograph called a hyalotype, was a gift from Tom Rall of Arlington, Virginia, and given to the Smithsonian in March.
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