Extended August Lecture Series Announced: Brumidi to Gallatin

The U.S. Capitol Historical Society is pleased to announce the 2015 Extended August Brown Bag Lecture Series. On Wednesdays from July 29 through August 26, speakers will discuss topics ranging from Constantino Brumidi’s life, his work, and its conservation, to Albert Gallatin (Secretary of the Treasury and representative from Pennsylvania), to depictions of George Washington in the Capitol Rotunda.

Please join us for any or all of these lectures. They begin at noon and are free and open to the public. Most will take place at 200 Maryland Ave. NE; Washington, DC 20002. Pre-registration is requested: online, by email, or call (202) 543-8919 x38 and leave a detailed message.


July 29: Debra Hanson, Virginia Commonwealth University

“George Washington in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda: Image, Space and Historical Memory”

Special location: Russell Senate Office Building, Room 325 (Caucus Room)


August 5: Amy E. Burton, Office of the Senate Curator

“Much More than Landscapes, Part 1: Brumidi, Congress, and the American West”


August 12: Christy Cunningham-Adams, Office of the Architect of the Capitol

“Much More than Landscapes, Part 2: Looking beneath the Surface to Restore the Original View”


August 19: Ron Duquette, historical interpreter

“Presenting Albert Gallatin”


August 26: Dr. Barbara Wolanin, Curator for the Architect of the Capitol

“The Friendship between Artist and Senator: Constantino Brumidi and Justin Morrill”


About our Speakers:

Debra Hanson’s talk, “George Washington in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda: Image, Space and Historical Memory”, will examine the orchestration of visual imagery and architectural space in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda. Focusing on representations of George Washington, it shows how their placement, style, and narrative content work together to construct a potent sense of historical memory with regard to the first president, the Capitol, and the nation.

Hanson is an art historian specializing in American Art and Visual Culture of the nineteenth and early twentieth century, with particular emphasis on the art and architecture of the US Capitol and the work of Thomas Eakins. She received her PhD in Art History from Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in 2005 and is currently an Assistant Professor of Art History at VCU’s Middle Eastern campus in Doha, Qatar. She is also assistant director of the Honors Program at VCUQatar. Hanson has been awarded numerous fellowships from the U.S. Capitol Historical Society to conduct research at the Capitol and has written and presented extensively on the intersections of art, architectural space, politics, and historical memory within the Capitol.
Landscape Medallion, Brumidi Corridor (Architect of the Capitol)

Amy Elizabeth Burton is the assistant Curator for the Office of Senate Curator. Her first book, To Make Beautiful the Capitol: Rediscovering the Art of Constantino Brumidi, was published in 2014. Specialized interests in ornithology and horticulture drive her current study of the flora and fauna depicted in the 19th-century murals of the Brumidi Corridors. In 2009, she directed a documentary based on the extensive restoration of the Senate’s Civil War-era painting, Henry Clay in the U.S. Senate. Burton earned her B.A. from Sweet Briar College and her M.A. in art history from Indiana University.

Left: Landscape Medallion, Brumidi Corridor (Architect of the Capitol)


Christiana Cunningham-Adams is an independent fine art paintings conservator who has lent her expertise in fresco conservation to the U.S. Capitol for two decades. After studying art history in Rome and graduating from the Istituto Centrale del Restauro in 1980, she completed an Advanced Painting Conservation internship at Harvard University’s Fogg Art Museum in 1981. A fellow of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works since 1993, and recipient of the National Trust for Historic Preservation Award in 2004, Cunningham-Adams has been the senior conservator and director of the Brumidi Corridors restoration project since 1991.
Albert Gallatin arrives at a speaking engagement. (Ron Duquette)

Ron Duquette is a native of Springfield, Massachusetts, and the lineal descendant of a French soldier who was at Mont Royal (Montreal), New France, in 1640. He is a 1974 graduate of Middlebury College in Vermont with a Bachelor of Letters degree (cum laude) in French Language and Literature, and has a 1984 Masters of Science Degree (summa cum laude) in Government from Campbell University, North Carolina. Entering the United States Army as a Second Lieutenant in 1974, he spent the next twenty years in assignments and schools in Arizona, Washington State, New Jersey, North Carolina, and then in Europe between Germany and England.

Left: Albert Gallatin arrives at a speaking engagement. (Ron Duquette)

Duquette’s own theatrical experience is broad, starting in high school through his time in the Army, ranging from French classical and modern theater (Le Mistere de la Passion, L’Avare, Le Tartuffe, Le Bal des Voleurs) to Shakespeare (King Lear, Hamlet, The Merchant of Venice) to musical theater (The Sound of Music, Little Me, Patience (G&S), The Stingiest Man in Town). He has also interpreted several historic personages: as Harry Truman in a 1987 self-written and produced production in Heidelberg, Germany in connection with the 200th anniversary of the writing of the Constitution of the United States; and as the Marquis de La Fayette at both Tudor Place in Georgetown and Gadsby’s Tavern in Old Towne Alexandria. For nearly the last two years, he has presented Gallatin in Washington, DC, Philadelphia, New York City, Alexandria (VA), and Arlington (VA).


Dr. Barbara Wolanin will discuss her visit to the Justin Morrill Homestead in Vermont, her new understanding of the depth of the friendship between Brumidi and Senator Justin Morrill, and the extent of the paintings by Brumidi that were collected by Morrill.

Wolanin has been the Curator for the Architect of the Capitol since 1985. She is responsible for the care of the works of art and historical records under the jurisdiction of the Architect of the Capitol. Her duties include overseeing the art conservation program, research, and exhibitions. Among the conservation projects she has managed have been the bronze Statue of Freedom, the murals in the Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress, and numerous murals by Constantino Brumidi, including the Apotheosis of Washington, the frieze under the dome, and the Brumidi Corridors. Her book on Brumidi highlights the conservation of his murals. She coordinates donations and commissions of art with the Joint Committee on the Library (and the Senate). She works closely with the United States Capitol Historical Society in managing the fellowship program and in planning symposia and was has advised on and supported exhibits and tour training for the Capitol Visitor Center. As director of the Curator Division, she supervises the Photography and Records Management and Archives branches.

She received a Ph.D. in art history from the University of Wisconsin in Madison and master’s degrees from Harvard University and Oberlin College, where she majored in art as an undergraduate. She previously taught art history at James Madison University and Trinity College (now University) in Washington, D.C.