George Washington Sat Here … And Here …

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But as a permanent setting the apse still left something to be desired; changing uses of the hall again deprived the statue of dignity and eventually led to semioblivion.

Over the decades the outrage of the public smoldered and died. Ridicule was gradually replaced by a grudging kind of respect—after all, “Greenough’s George” was prime Americana. In 1962, when the vast new history and technology building was nearing completion, the statue made its last journey. Without fanfare it was put into a great wooden crate to be trucked across the Mall to a specially designed gleaming marble shrine. The lighting at last is faultless—and as a functionalist Horatio Greenough would have approved the building. Finally the flower of Greenough’s days commands a place of great honor. There will be no more wandering for the scantily clad George. It would take at least an earthquake.

MOSES ON HEROIC SCULPTURE