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Although the National Gallery of Art has presented special exhibitions since its opening in 1941, it was the opening of the East Building in 1978 that greatly expanded their number and complexity. The new building provided the design team maximum flexibility, including the allowance of objects soaring to nearly 40 feet, safe installation of objects weighing over 13 tons, and a sunlit space over 100 feet long. With the addition in 2016 of two new exhibition spaces, a new exterior sculpture terrace, and staircases that allow the visitor to move freely between all levels, the East Building continues to offer new and exciting opportunities. In this lecture, held on August 13, 2017, Mark Leithauser, senior curator and chief of design, discusses the history of the department, how an exhibition evolves from concept to reality, the installation process, and illustrates how the same East Building gallery space has been repeatedly redesigned and reconstructed to display works of art at the highest possible museum and scholarly standards.

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