National Archives New Visitor Orientation Plaza, Washington DC: New mural design study with adjusted perspective for shallow dome distortion

John Canning & Co. was engaged by Hartman Cox Architects to assist with the design of a new mural proposed for a shallow dome in the new visitor orientation plaza, located a level beneath the Constitution exhibit hall. The architects’ concept was a mural that represents the Constitution exhibit space, with a dramatic coffered half-dome ceiling above the Constitution display case. Executing the mural directly on the curved dome would cause visual distortion. We proposed inserting a new curved wall, providing enough vertical space for a trompe l’oeil depiction of the upper portions of the Constitution display entablature; the coffered ceiling would be depicted on the dome. John Canning & Co. was also the consultant for historic finish exposures and paint analysis, and was responsible for the restoration of the decorative paint, stone & marble restoration, incised-letter gilding, and metal refinishing. Work included the full restoration of the Beaux Arts building’s Grand Lobby, Loggias, and the Great Rotunda. Throughout the project, John Canning & Co. worked with several departments, including the President’s office.

Location: Washington, DC

Built: 1933

Original Architect: John Russell Pope

Style: Classical Revival


U.S. National Register of Historic Places

Planning & Design Services:

  • Historic Investigation and Analysis
  • Scientific & Interpretive Analysis


Restoration & Decoration Techniques:

  • Architectural Gilding
  • Stenciling
  • Glazing
  • Trompe l’oeil
  • Faux Marbling
  • Wood Graining
  • Commissioned Art Murals
  • Decorative Painting