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Mountains and Clouds, by Alexander Calder, 1985

The largest—and most modern—work of art on Capitol Hill is located in the Hart Senate Office Building atrium.

Collection of the U.S. Senate; photo courtesy of the Architect of the Capitol

Mountains and Clouds, by Alexander Calder, 1985

New Additions to the Capitol Collection

The Capitol continues to grow and change. So does its art collection. Following a time-honored tradition, Congress commissioned a number of new works. The sculptor Lee Lawrie completed three plaques, Courage, Patriotism, and Wisdom for the Senate Chamber redecoration. Allyn Cox designed murals and decorations for the first-floor House corridors, and various sculptors produced 23 relief portraits of notable lawgivers for the redesigned House Chamber.

Capitol Hill’s first nonrepresentational sculpture, Alexander Calder’s Mountains and Clouds, was installed in the Hart Senate Office Building (1985–1986). This period also brought a new appreciation for historic works of art—and heightened concern for their proper care. A 1981 survey assessed the condition of the Capitol’s murals. Three years later, Congress began to allocate funds for their gradual conservation and restoration.