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U.S. House Curator Seeking $25,000 to Repair Art Vandalized During the Capitol Riots

The curator of the U.S. House of Representatives’s art collection is seeking $25,000 to repair artifacts vandalized during the attack on the Capitol January 6.

According to a report in the Hill, curator Farar Elliot is scheduled to appear before the House Appropriations subcommittee, which oversees funding for the legislative branch, to petition for funds needed to repair eight objects displayed outside the chamber doors, many of which damaged after being doused in fire extinguisher residue when pro-Trump rioters stormed the Capitol building last month.

“Fire extinguisher particulate contains a yellow dye that can discolor the surfaces it touches, particularly porous stone such as marble,” Elliot wrote in a prepared testimony she will give to the subcommittee. During the attack, rioters also doused the chamber with aerosols such as bear spray and pepper spray, which left a thick layer of residue on pieces from the art collection.

The U.S. Capitol is home to precious pieces of historical art, most of which remain on view to the public throughout the year. The rotunda boasts eight large historical paintings, including John Trumbull’s painting Declaration of Independence, which depicts John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin presenting the draft of the declaration to the Second Continental Congress.

At the time of the attack, the National Statuary Hall to the south of the Rotunda contained 35 statues of prominent Americans, from civil rights leaders to famous inventors, as well works by artists such as Thomas Crawford and Constantino Brumidi.

Though much of the collection emerged unscathed from the rampage, a 19th-century marble bust of former president Zachary Taylor was defaced with what resembled blood, while a framed photo of the Dalai Lama was stolen. A scroll featuring Chinese characters was also destroyed.

The building’s historic windows and doors suffered the most severe damage as insurrectionists forced their way inside through various entry points. The Neoclassical structure, which was designed by physician, inventor, and artist William Thornton in the late 1700s, is still being assessed for damage by historical preservationists.

In the aftermath of the riot, some discussed leaving some of the damage intact as a historical marker of the insurrection attempt. “Throughout the Capitol, keen eyes can still find impressions of our history, including chisel marks on the columns in the crypt left by those enslaved by early Americans to build the Capitol,” Democratic Representatives Dean Phillips and Andy Kim wrote in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Administration Committee Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren. “Just as these reminders of our complicated past remain, so too must some of the damage caused by the insurrectionists on January 6th, 2021.”

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