World’s Largest Indoor Mural Collection is Hidden Inside the Department of Interior

The Tetons - Snake River Grand in Teton National Park, Wyoming by Ansel Adams
“The Tetons – Snake River,” Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming by Ansel Adams. Source: National Archives

You can recognize an Ansel Adams black and white photograph anywhere.  However, have you ever seen his large scale photographic murals?
There are 26 of these jaw dropping beauties hidden inside the Department of Interior (DOI).  Yes, there is an Interior Museum inside the agency affectionately called “Department of Everything Else”.  It is easy to miss this Hidden Art Gem among the other federal buildings on the C street in Washington D.C.

In Glacier National Park, Montana by Ansel Adams
Tops of pine trees, snow covered, “In Glacier National Park,” Montana by Ansel Adams. Source: National Archives

I accidentally discovered the world’s largest indoor mural collection inside this building.  On a Thursday afternoon, I was looking for Native American jewelry for a special gift.  I had heard about DOI’s excellent Indian Craft Shop.

There, I saw a postcard for the Murals Tour.   As luck would have it, I was there at the exact day and time tour started.
On this tour you will see grand murals about the Land rushes, Marian Anderson’s banned concert, Construction of a dam, and much more.  If you don’t think highly of murals now, I promise this collection of over 40 murals will change that!

Rush for the Oklahoma Land - 1894 by John Steuart Curry
Rush for the Oklahoma Land – 1894 by John Steuart Curry. Photo Credit: Carol M. Highsmith Photography
Themes of the Bureau of Indian Affairs by Maynard Dixon
Themes of the Bureau of Indian Affairs by Maynard Dixon. Photo Credit: Carol M. Highsmith Photography
Insular Possesions by James Michael Newell
Insular Possesions by James Michael Newell. Photo Credit: Carol M. Highsmith Photography

Don’t miss Interior Museum’s Exhibitions whose past highlights include art of the incomparable, whimsical Charley Harper.

Fun Fact: Nicolas Cage ran up the the DOI’s stairs in one of the National Treasure movie.  You can too, on the Murals Tour!

Department of Interior
1849 C St NW, Washington, DC 20240
Hours: Mondays – Fridays, 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM
Closed Federal holidays
Cost: Free.  Photo ID required.
Mural Tour – 2:00 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Call  202-208-4743 to make a reservation.

I would love to hear what you think of this visual feast of American history and geography!  Is there any other indoor mural collection in the world that rivals this Hidden Art Gem?

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