“Save the Smithsonian’s Enid Haupt Garden!”

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Photo by PoPville flickr user Miki J.

“Dear PoPville,

We all know that pretty garden behind the Smithsonian Castle. Well if you love it, it’s likely not going to be there anymore. Please sign this petition to save the Haupt Garden at the Smithsonian – once we hit a 1,000 we can forward on to the Smithsonian leadership.

If you’ve entered the Smithsonian Institution from Independence Ave., you’ve probably enjoyed the Enid Haupt Garden. The Haupt Garden is a small jewel in the National Mall and a real oasis for both tourists and residents alike.

An important component of the Smithsonian Institution’s proposed “South Mall Campus Master Plan” is to completely demolish the Enid Haupt Garden; the existing entrance pavilions to the National Museum of African Art, the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, and the S. Dillon Ripley International Center; and the Renwick Gates and Walls at the south edge of the Haupt Garden.

The proposed Smithsonian “South Mall Campus Master Plan” calls for the demolition of the Enid Haupt Garden, the existing entrance pavilions to the National Museum of African Art, the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and the S. Dillon Ripley International Center, and the Renwick Gates and Walls at the south edge of the Haupt Garden. Information on this plan concept can be found here.”

17 Comment

  • Smilla

    Wow. Getting rid of the garden and installing that sterile-looking plaza is a terrible idea!

    I’ve signed the petition. Thanks for highlighting, Dan.

  • As someone else said, why fix it when it ain’t broken! This beautiful garden ain’t broken! Typical of govt. to go and ruin something great–& the Smithsonian ain’t even govt. but you know what I mean.

    • Yes, the Smithsonian is part of the U.S. government. From its website: “The Smithsonian Institution was created by Congress in 1846 as “an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge.” Congress vested responsibility for the administration of the Smithsonian in a Board of Regents, consisting of the Chief Justice of the United States, the Vice President of the United States, three members of the United States Senate, three members of the United States House of Representatives, and nine citizens.”
      .
      But back to the main point, BOOOOOO for the idea of uprooting even a single bush in that garden. It’s one of my favorite places in the city.

  • Public areas have to be able to change to meet new needs. If you look at the two museums from the perspective of a visitor unfamiliar with the area, the entrances to both leave much to be desired from a way finding perspective. They aren’t closing the museums forever; they are making the entrances better.

    As for the garden, note that they have to destroy it just to get to the areas underground in the first place. Maybe argue that you want the original format of the garden brought back after construction. It actually looks like the new plan allows for more green space, just not in the geometric shape that is there now.

    • But the fact is, for visitors “unfamiliar with the area” – i.e. – 99.9% of tourists – these underground museums don’t even exist. The average tourist visit is 4-5 days and even with vigorous all-day assaults on the major museums, public buildings, monuments etc. they don’t get through half of the top attractions.

      Locals and others who seek out the unique offerings of these museums can find them well enough.

      The gardens are beautiful. Leave them alone.

  • I love BIG’s proposal and would love to see it largely realized and I disagree with the petition, but here’s the thing: I think everybody is going to win.

    This project is going to move forward not because it transforms the garden but because it’s really about seismic improvements and other maintenance to the Castle that really has to happen. http://www.southmallcampus.si.edu/project-overview.html

    BIG’s proposal is naturally grandiose and pushes the envelope, but I think at the end of the day Smithsonian will tone it down. I imagine we’ll see a compromise that keeps some elements of today’s garden (hopefully the Moongate and the Fountain Garden) while making vital improvements, such as the upturned corners to allow natural light into the Sackler.

  • You may want to reach out to the Annenberg foundation (http://www.annenberg.org/) for support. Enid was an Annenberg.

  • I love the Haupt Garden! What’s going to happen to it?
    The Haupt Garden is actually a green roof over the Quad and needs to be completely removed to correct chronic leaks. With the relocation of the Quad loading dock, the size of the Haupt Garden will be significantly increased. The new garden is likely to include more active, event spaces as well as areas of horticultural education and display and others for rest and contemplation.

    This is from the Smithsonian’s website

  • done!

  • I work directly across from this garden. While it is a nice garden, I think the plans look like a major improvement to the usability of the area. The area as it is now is cut off and feels very restricted. It isn’t a good use of space. The new plan looks much more open and inviting. It’s not like they are putting in a parking lot. They are putting in a great big open space with lots of treats and more gardens. It would help tie all the surrounding buildings and museums together instead of how broken up everything currently is.

    I think a lot of people are scared of any type of change.

    • For me it’s not that change is bad, but that there are already lots of wide open spaces in that area (like, the entire Mall and plaza entrances on each side of every museum), and this is one of the few spaces around that feels intimate (even when sharing it with 100 strangers). Even the other more intimate spaces, like around the Am Indian and Bot Garden, feel very paved and open compared to the Haupt Garden.

      • maxwell smart

        Agreed. It almost feels like a secret garden that you happened to discover, which to me is more inviting then a wide open plaza that I would probably walk past. I only hope that whatever they do they can save the magnolia trees – the magnolia bloom in the garden, to me, is the true highlight of Cherry Blossom Festival.

    • I like the Haupt garden, but I also like the general *concept* for the plan of a common entry to the museums. The design will probably get changed. Maybe at some other location nearby or along the mall there can be garden/park similar to the scale of Haupt?

  • Right in the development plan….

    I love the Haupt Garden! What’s going to happen to it?

    The Haupt Garden is actually a green roof over the Quad and needs to be completely removed to correct chronic leaks. With the relocation of the Quad loading dock, the size of the Haupt Garden will be significantly increased. The new garden is likely to include more active, event spaces as well as areas of horticultural education and display and others for rest and contemplation.

  • Unless you all are planning to throw some money at the situation, a petition may not get you very far. Most likely, that garden was paid for through an endowment from the Haupt family for a certain amount of years. After that, if the Smithsonian can’t find funding, things will change in accordance. If there is no one to pay for your lovely secret garden, POOF! Into the air it goes. The federal government only pretty much pays for the lights to stay on at the Smithsonian. Everything else, exhibits, public programs, permanent displays are ALL privately funded. So, unless you’re going to rename it the PopVille Garden and throw some money at the situation, I say good luck and God speed.

  • I hope the Smithsonian organization solicits input from the public before re-designing and possibly destroying the peaceful and beautiful oasis that is the Enid Haupt Garden.

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