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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

National Statuary Hall Collection: Background and Legislation in the 112th Congress

Jacob R. Straus
Analyst on the Congress

R. Eric Petersen
Specialist in American National Government

The National Statuary Hall Collection, located in the United States Capitol, comprises 100 statues provided by individual states to honor persons notable for their historic renown or for distinguished services. The collection was authorized in 1864, at the same time that Congress redesignated the hall where the House of Representatives formerly met as National Statuary Hall. The first statue, depicting Nathanael Greene, was provided in 1870 by Rhode Island. The collection has consisted of 100 statues—two statues per state—since 2005, when New Mexico sent a statue of Po’pay. At various times, aesthetic and structural concerns necessitated the relocation of some statues throughout the Capitol. Today, some of the 100 individual statues in the National Statuary Hall Collection are located in the House and Senate wings of the Capitol, the Rotunda, the Crypt, and the Capitol Visitor Center.

Legislation to increase the size of the National Statuary Hall Collection was introduced in several Congresses. These measures would permit states to furnish more than two statues or allow the District of Columbia and the U.S. territories to provide statues to the collection. Although none of these proposals were enacted, legislation has been reintroduced in the 112th Congress (2011-2012) to potentially expand the collection to more than two statues per state (H.R. 1289) and to provide statues to the District of Columbia and the territories (H.R. 3106).

Should Congress choose to expand the number of statues in the National Statuary Hall Collection, the Joint Committee on the Library and the Architect of the Capitol (AOC) may need to address statue location to allay aesthetic, structural, and safety concerns in National Statuary Hall, the Capitol Visitor Center, and other areas of the Capitol.

This report provides historical information on the National Statuary Hall Collection and National Statuary Hall. It examines the creation, design, placement, and replacement of statues in the National Statuary Hall Collection. The report then discusses recent legislative proposals to increase the size of the National Statuary Hall Collection. Finally, the report discusses potential issues for congressional consideration.

Date of Report: November 6, 2012
Number of Pages: 15
Order Number: R42812
Price: $29.95

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