The National Museum of American History

There it sits, rusting away on a base of weed-infested gravel, dwarfed by tall trees masking its silhouette and blocking any view from afar. A worse setting would be hard to imagine. Adding insult to injury, it’s filthy, strewn with trash, defaced with graffiti, and colonized by bird nests.

Alexander Calder’s Gwenfritz (named after its socialite patron Gwendolyn Cafritz) was designed for the Constitution Avenue entrance of the Washington’s National Museum of American History (NMAH). Moved years ago from its original location to an obscure corner of the museum’s grounds, the thirty-five-ton sculpture has morphed over time into a metaphor for the museum itself: disord ...