The U.S. Capitol Building has been decorated multiple times as the building has been renovated and the extensions were constructed. The Architect of the Capitol (AOC) leads an effort with the House and Senate curators to identify spaces in the building that may contain evidence of historic paint schemes that are no longer visible due to modern painting.

In many of these areas the plaster is failing under the stress and weight of multiple paint layers, a result of decades of repainting wall and ceiling surfaces. Prior to removing the failing plaster, paint samples are collected and analyzed, a process that allows the AOC to record the finishes used in the past before removing the evidence of historic treatments. This analysis process allows the area to be restored to represent an appropriate period as determined by the curatorial community.

Current Phase: 2nd Floor South Corridor, Senate Wing Extension

Based on paint analysis and historic photographs, the conservators are finalizing the circa 1865-1896 paint scheme, to be executed by the AOC Paint Shop. Initial work will focus on repairing plaster surfaces, followed by repainting, which includes trompe l'oeil panels and other decorative elements on the walls and ceilings.

View of the Senate corridor getting ready to undergo paint and plaster repair.
View of plaster damage in the Senate corridor waiting for repair.

Work will begin in the South Corridor and will continue into the West Corridor. The Senate art displayed in the corridor has been temporarily relocated for the duration of the project.

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