Curator estimates Capitol art damage from mob totals $25K

Getty Images

The curator responsible for the House’s art collection is expected to ask lawmakers to allot $25,000 to repair artifacts displayed outside the chamber that were damaged during the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

Farar Elliott, the House curator, is slated to say in prepared testimony on Wednesday before the House Appropriations subcommittee overseeing funding for the legislative branch that the $25,000 is needed to fix eight objects in the hallways leading to the House chamber that were covered in fire extinguisher residue during the insurrection by former President Trump’s supporters.

The objects include marble and granite busts of former Speakers Joe Cannon, Champ Clark, Joe Martin, and Thomas Brackett Reed; portraits of former Presidents James Madison and John Quincy Adams; a bust of Chippewa leader Be shekee; and a statue of former President Thomas Jefferson.

Elliott explained in the prepared testimony that the curatorial staff would have to implement a special treatment plan to remove the stains caused by the fire extinguisher residue.

“Fire extinguisher particulate contains a yellow dye that can discolor the surfaces it touches, particularly porous stone such as marble,” Elliott plans to testify.

Numerous members of the mob used aerosols like bear spray and pepper spray to attack police officers and removed fire extinguishers from the walls in the Capitol, leaving a layer of residue all over the floors throughout the building.

The five-figure sum put forth by the House curator is only a fraction of the costs to taxpayers incurred by the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Architect of the Capitol J. Brett Blanton noted in his prepared testimony for Wednesday’s hearing that the House and Senate Appropriations committees approved a transfer request of $30 million for his agency’s expenses and to extend the perimeter fencing erected around the Capitol after Jan. 6.

Blanton noted that the fencing contract was extended through March 31 and said that additional funding may be necessary. He also requested funding for a “campus-wide” and “comprehensive” security assessment, but did not specify an amount.

“While this transfer addresses some of this need, expenses that we know are forthcoming are unfunded. Additional resources will also be needed should the elevated security posture of the campus extend past March 31,” Blanton said in his prepared testimony.

Security costs from Jan. 6 have also piled up. Acting Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee said during testimony before the House Appropriations Committee last month that his agency sent about 850 police officers and spent more than $8.8 million during the week of Jan. 6 to help support the Capitol security presence.

And Defense Department officials estimated that the deployment of thousands of National Guard troops cost at least $480 million, according to Bloomberg.

Elliott noted that House staffers acted quickly during the attack to secure certain valuable artifacts, including an 1819 silver inkstand — which she said is the oldest object in the House chamber — and the ceremonial mace.

Blanton said that Architect of the Capitol staff on Jan. 6 had begun painting the inauguration stands on the Capitol’s west front, only for that work to be destroyed by the mob that ultimately tracked wet blue paint all over the building. He noted that some staff also acted to help clear the air in the Capitol of the chemical aerosols by “rac[ing] to the roof to reverse the airflows within the building.”

Earlier this month, Democratic Reps. Dean Phillips (Minn.) and Andy Kim (N.J.) called for preserving the damaged glass panes in the doors on the Capitol’s east front that lead to the Rotunda.

“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, a bullet hole in the desk of Republican leadership in the House chamber from the 1954 attack by Puerto Rican nationalists, and an inlay patch on the desk of traitorous former Senator Jefferson Davis marking where Union soldiers attacked the desk with bayonets during the Civil War. Just as these reminders of our complicated past remain, so too must some of the damage caused by the insurrectionists on January 6th, 2021,” Phillips and Kim wrote in a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Administration Committee Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.).

Blanton said that his agency turned over some damaged materials to the Justice Department and preserved the broken glass panes in the doors to the Capitol Rotunda for a potential display. But he clarified that his agency is replacing broken windows and doors “for safety reasons.”

Tags Capitol police Capitol riot Dean Phillips Donald Trump Nancy Pelosi Zoe Lofgren

Most Popular

Load more


See all Video