The Brumidi Corridors Rediscovered

On July 18th, 2017 the United States Capitol Historical Society hosted an evening reception and educational program about the restoration and conservation of the Brumidi Corridors of the United States Capitol.

The breathtaking rooms and corridors located on the first floor of the Senate wing of the Capitol were decorated in the style of Raphael’s Loggia in the Vatican by Constantino Brumidi and his team of artists between 1856 and 1878. Combining the ancient style with uniquely North American elements and icons, Brumidi and his team created a beautifully symbolic work in the passages of the Capitol.

For more than 150 years, damage, deterioration, and layers of unfortunate overpainting obscured the brilliance of the original design. These degradations through time shifted the light and elegant palate to a dark and dingy appearance and covered the highly skilled designs.

Beginning in 1992 after a year’s examination, Christiana Cunningham-Adams led a team of highly trained professionals in painstakingly removing the layers of overpaint, at times with surgical scalpels, and stabilizing damaged areas of the walls. Ms. Cunningham-Adams was on hand for the program, discussing how she and her team carefully restored and retouched the corridors to bring them back in line with Brumidi’s vision.

Guests at the program gathered in the beautiful Lyndon B. Johnson Room, also decorated by Brumidi, just beyond the Senate Floor. Following remarks from Chairman of the USCHS Board of Trustees Donald G. Carlson, Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Deputy Architect of the Capitol Christine Merdon, and USCHS President Ronald Sarasin, the group embarked on a guided tour of the corridors.

Along the tour route guests met and learned from Amy Elizabeth Burton, Assistant Curator for the Secretary of the Senate, Dr. Michele Cohen, Curator for the Architect of the Capitol, Christiana Cunningham-Adams, Chief Conservator on the project, Tom Fontana, Director of Communications and Special Events for the Capitol Visitor Center, and Dr. Barbara Wolanin, Curator Emerita for the Architect of the Capitol.