Technology and Consciousness in the Brumidi Corridor of the U.S. Capitol

The Brumidi and Patent Corridors of the Senate Wing of the U.S. Capitol are part of the section constructed between 1852 and 1859 by Architect of the Capitol Thomas U. Walker. Based on the Loggia of the Vatican, these corridors are filled with elaborate decorative details, oil paintings, and true fresco lunettes above doorways or under the curving vault ceiling.

Located on the first floor of the Senate wing, and designed by Italian painter and sculptor Constantino Brumidi, the decorative details celebrate not only the classical influences of early Federal architecture and philosophy, but also an impressive array of American flora and fauna. Most importantly, the art in the Brumidi Corridor celebrates American democracy, genius, progress, and technology. The first set of frescoes were complete in 1877, depicting the progress of American civilization; space was reserved on the walls and lunettes for the celebration of future American achievement.

This hypertext studies the phenomena of progress, technology, and democracy, how they interact, and how these interactions are expressed in the Brumidi Corridor:

Introductory essay: Democracy and Progress in America

The Celebration of Progress and Technology: The Patent and Brumidi Corridors

Notes and Further Reading


Original concept and creation by John Dyer, Spring 1995.

Introductory essay and design update by Julie Rose, March 1996.

Last updated 3.18.96


A Project of

American Studies @ the University of Virginia