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Posted at 10:22 AM ET, 08/ 7/2007

An Exhibit for the History Books

By Julia Beizer

It's been a good run for "American Treasures," the Library of Congress's rotating history exhibit. For the past 10 years, a relatively small gallery space in the Jefferson Building has been decked with ever-evolving displays of documents, artifacts, artwork and ephemera. The show finally closes its doors on Saturday, Aug. 18. Washington working folk who want to see the show should stop by the library tonight: the exhibit will be open to the public until 8 p.m.

The show is a short-and-sweet romp through American history. Current displays include a case on Lincoln's assassination, one on World War II posters, a promotional flyer for Upton Sinclair's famous book, "The Jungle," and a video of Johnny Carson interviewing Groucho Marx about donating his letters to the library. None of the cases are particularly in depth, and they don't need to be. They're simply primary sources from the library's holdings that detail small capsules of American history. The exhibit is really a tourist's help-me-get-oriented dream, but locals may appreiciate more artsy holdings like Ken Ashton's photograph of the Penn Theater, Marion Belanger's photo "Home Depot at Sunset" and the facsimile of Waldseemuller's 1507 map (the first one to coin the name "America").

The exhibition is closing to prepare for a new visitor-center display that will open in spring 2008. The library won't be dormant until then, though: Spokeswoman Audrey Fischer says that a temporary exhibition on the early Americas will launch in December 2007. Additionally, visitors can still check out the Gutenberg Bible and other displays in the intricately crafted marble building. The vaulted ceiling on the second floor is a sight to behold.


By Julia Beizer  | August 7, 2007; 10:22 AM ET
Categories:  Museums  
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Hello, GOGs. I would point out that the "Early Americas" exhibition will not be temporary, but ongoing. The 1507 Waldseemüller Map will be housed in that gallery in a relatively mammoth, argon-gas filled, aluminum case.

"The Early Americas" will also become part of the Library's ambitious and technologically advanced new experience for visitors that will be opening in the spring. (That new experience originally had been timed to coincide with the opening of the tunnel from the Library to the Capitol Visitor Center, but the latter has since been delayed by a few additional months.)

Posted by: Matt Raymond at LOC | August 7, 2007 1:34 PM | Report abuse

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