The Thomas Jefferson Building
Disclaimer: The date on these photographs is not accurate. The correct date for our LOC adventure is August 31st 2012.
|~the view from the Library of Congress steps|
It was a very short walk from the capitol building to the Library of Congress, and the beauty of that place was enough to take your breath away. We stood on the steps for a bit, taking a few pictures, but mostly appreciating the intricacies even here shown on the outside.
My camera battery had died near the end of the capitol tour, (very distressing) but Grandma kindly lent me hers to take pictures with, and these photos are all courtesy of that!
We walked up the broad steps and through the great doors into Wonder. From the first steps, I was transfixed by the painted ceilings; colorful, historic, literary. Often there would be a word inscribed in the vaults of ceiling. Sometimes a name: Holmes, Plato, Shakespeare, Spenser . Sometimes a category: Poetry, Philosophy, Theology. The colors were fascinating; the patterns, arches and statues so intricate and beautiful.
We saw the Gutenberg Bible (it was just Michal and myself exploring now) and then hopped on a tour where we listened to a very detailed description of many of the different features. We got to peer through the windows of the doors to the Main Reading Room (pictured below) and a bit later, we climbed a stair to a glassed-off balcony where we were able to look out over the main reading room: the desks and the bookshelves--two whole floors of bookshelves inside the lower arches; and to see the statues lining the inside of the dome: Shakespeare, Homer, Moses, Columbus. Each guarding their corresponding sections: art, poetry, music, philosophy, law, theology, science...
We were up too high to properly see the painting in the cupula, but there were pictures of it. Our tour guide said that the numerous flowers engraved on the ceiling were all useful. 1/3 of them security cameras, 1/3 sprinklers, 1/3 air-conditioning ducts. He also said that the latest movie filmed there was National Treasure 2, which of course I was already thinking of. (X,Y,2,3,4,7,8,6). We weren't allowed to take pictures there, so you'll have to see it yourself.
"Give me Liberty or give me death" --Patrick Henry
After the tour, Michal and I went to the exhibit '88 books that shaped America'. There were a great many that I knew, and quite a few that I had read. One of the oldest was Common Sense by Thomas Paine, which (of course) reminded me of National Treasure:
Abigail: "Common Sense, how appropriate."
[Shakes a few hundred dollar bills from the pages.]
There were ones that I recognized: Moby Dick, The Scarlet Letter, Huckleberry Finn... Ones that I have read, and some of these in particular made me smile: Little Women, Charlotte's Web, Goodnight Moon, The Snowy Day... We weren't allowed to take pictures here either; or in Thomas Jefferson's Library, where we went next.
That library thrilled my soul. Each of the original books were marked with a green ribbon, centuries old, many of them evidently well loved and used. The books with yellow ribbons were replacements after the 1851 fire. (If that is such a saddening thought to me, what must Thomas Jefferson's devastation have been at losing two-thirds of his precious volumes?) And 298 are still missing, titles that he had owned, but could not be replaced, apparently.
The books were of varying sizes "some as big as a Bible in a church" [Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Lewis],
some small and well worn. French books, Latin books, Encyclopedias, Histories, The Odyssey, Virgil, Bibles, Dictionaries, books on law and politics, and just about everything else. There was a 'History of America', which made me smile, since there was so much less of it then. Shelves and shelves to feast my eyes upon, until I was fairly giddy with a book-worm's delight.
"I cannot live without books"