The Smithsonian Institution Building, better known as the Castle, is a Norman-style red
sandstone building on the National Mall. It is the first Smithsonian building ever built,
and now houses the Smithsonian Information Center.
James Renwick, the designer of St. Patricks Cathedral in
New York City, also designed the Smithsonian Institution Building. Better known as the
Castle, the building has come to symbolize the Smithsonian Institution itself. Completed
in 1855, the Castle originally housed the entire Smithsonian Institution, including
exhibits, research facilities, offices and even served as the home of the
Institutions secretary and his family.
Today, the Castle houses the Smithsonian Information Center where information on
current Smithsonian exhibits is available. It is a good idea to start your tours of the
Smithsonian at the Information Center. A short film describes the general layout of the
Smithsonian, and displays give information on specific exhibits. Multilingual services are
The Castle and Information Center open at 9 AM, an hour before the Museums open, so you
can prepare your touring schedule without wasting valuable time. Planning in advance will
allow you to make the most of the Smithsonians 15 museums and 140 million artifacts.
Behind the Castle is the Enid Haupt Memorial Garden. This beautiful 4-acre garden is
notable for its beauty as well as its distinction as the largest rooftop garden in the