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Periodical Volume 3 Issue 1 Scavenger Hunt

Architectural Scavenger Hunt

By Lucas Harmon

 Volume 2 Issue 2 Clue

This architectural element, pictured from above, sheds light on a museum artifact that shares its name with the first Secretary of the Smithsonian.

Detail image of a dome.
Image from AHHP staff.


If you answered the oculus of the National Museum of Natural History’s (NMNH) Rotunda, you are correct! Since 1959, an 11-ton African elephant known as Henry has greeted visitors in the NMNH Rotunda. Joseph Henry served as the Smithsonian Institution’s first Secretary from 1846 until his death in 1878. A bronze statue of Joseph Henry is located directly across the Mall from NMNH in front of the Castle. Check out more images of the NMNH Rotunda below:

Detail image of the NMNH Rotunda dome skylight looking up from the interior.
Figure 1. Interior view of the NMNH Rotunda dome with the oculus at the dome center. Source: AHHP files/Martin Stupich.
Old drawing section of the NMNH Rotunda.
Figure 2. Section drawing of the NMNH Rotunda dated 1906. Source: Smithsonian Archives.
Section image of the Rotunda Dome under original construction showing wood bracing.
Figure 3. Interior of the NMNH Rotunda dome under construction in 1908. Source: Smithsonian Archives.
Modern image of the NMNH Rotunda taken from above.
Figure 4. Henry on display in the Rotunda. A 2015 conservation project modified Henry’s platform, uncovering the inlayed compass in the Rotunda floor directly below the oculus. Source: SI Staff.


 New Clue

The date inscribed on this brick notes the construction date of this Smithsonian building, which makes it the oldest Smithsonian structure still in its original location.

Detail image of a brick wall with a date inscription on a brick face.
Figure 1. A brick with the date 1735 inscribed in it. Photo courtesy Smithsonian AHHP Staff.


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