Renwick is ready to re­open.

The Washington Post Sunday - - ARTS & STYLE - BY PEGGY MCGLONE PHO­TO­GRAPHS BY KATHER­INE FREY peggy.mcglone@wash­post.com

On a re­cent morn­ing, artist Jen­nifer An­gus puts the fin­ish­ing touches on a new in­stal­la­tion on the sec­ond floor of the his­toric Renwick Gallery. Her piece fea­tures 5,000 in­sect spec­i­mens pinned in or­nate pat­terns that are both as­ton­ish­ing and beau­ti­ful. In an ad­join­ing gallery, a crafts­man ac­cents the dec­o­ra­tive mold­ing with gold leaf while con­struc­tion work­ers at­tend to the for­mal stair­case just be­low.

“We’re re­claim­ing the build­ing gallery by gallery,” says cu­ra­tor Ni­cholas R. Bell, wear­ing a hard hat and gog­gles as he ob­serves the progress.

Just weeks be­fore its re­open­ing, theRen­wick is a bee­hive of ac­tiv­ity as work on the build­ing’s restora­tion co­in­cides with the in­stal­la­tion of works by nine artists com­mis­sioned for the open­ing show, “Won­der.” An­gus’s piece ref­er­ences fa­mil­iar wall­pa­per de­signs but uses in­sects to cre­ate the pat­terns. Ten­sion and sur­prise are cre­ated in the beauty of crea­tures that most peo­ple would rather not have in their homes.

“I do feel like I’m tak­ing credit for Mother Na­ture,” the artist says with a grin, “but I’mokay with that.”

Home to the Smith­so­nian Amer­i­can Art Mu­seum’s col­lec­tion of craft and dec­o­ra­tive arts, the Renwick Gallery re­opens Nov. 13 af­ter a two-year, $30 mil­lion ren­o­va­tion. The open­ing ex­hi­bi­tion of site-spe­cific com­mis­sions will show­case the build­ing’s new look.

Bell says the works in “Won­der” are in­tended to draw visi­tors’ at­ten­tion to the ar­chi­tec­tural flour­ishes of the his­toric struc­ture and spotlight the beauty of the restora­tion.

“This show is a cel­e­bra­tion of the ex­pe­ri­ence of walk­ing into a mu­seum and los­ing your­self,” he says. “We live such busy lives, we don’t have very many ‘wow’ mo­ments.”

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