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The new "Collecting Memories: Treasures from the Library of Congress" exhibit opens for a press preview, June 10, 2024. Photo by Shawn Miller/Library of Congress. Note: Privacy and publicity rights for individuals depicted may apply.

New Treasures Gallery: Music Division Collections on Display

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On June 13, 2024, the new David M. Rubenstein Treasures Gallery opened on the mezzanine level of the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building. The new permanent gallery features more than 120 collection items handpicked from across the Library’s vast holdings, including several items from the Music Division’s collections. The selection will mostly rotate every six months; what will remain consistent, however, is an exhibit that excites, surprises, and inspires future visitors. This initial installation, “Collecting Memories,” built around the theme of remembrance, includes the following items from the Music Division’s collections.

Guidonian Hand from a 15th-century Codex Copied by Preottonus

The Guidonian hand, named for medieval music pedagogue Guido d’Arezzo (c. 991-after 1033), was a visual device used to teach sight singing and a sort of precursor to the solfège teaching tool we know today. The Music Division holds numerous 15th– and 16th-century musical treatises that feature a visual representation of the Guidonian hand; this 15th-century codex, copied by a Benedictine monk called Johannes Franciscus Preottonus of Pavia, features a particularly beautiful hand-painted Guidonian hand.

Hand-painted illustration of the Guidonian hand with notes indicated at each joint.
Hand-painted Guidonian hand illustrated in 15-century Codex copied by Johannes Franciscus Preottonus. Call number ML171 .J6, Music Division.


President James Madison’s Laurent Crystal Flute, ca. 1813.

The Library’s crystal flute made for President James Madison by Claude Laurent made headlines in 2022 when Lizzo visited our flute collection and blew a note through the beautiful instrument in concert. Laurent patented a leaded glass flute in 1806 that held pitch and tone better through fluctuations in temperature and humidity, but by the middle of the century metal flutes took over the market. Only 185 of his glass flutes survive today, and his crystal flutes are even rarer. Laurent sent this crystal flute to President Madison in honor of his second inauguration, and First Lady Dolley Madison rescued it from the White House in 1814 as the British invaded Washington, DC. Read more about the flute, Lizzo’s visit, and how we conserve the instrument in this 2022 Library of Congress article.


Oscar Hammerstein’s Lyric Sheets for “Do Re Mi” from “The Sound of Music”

Oscar Hammerstein was one of most influential lyricists, librettists, and producers in the history of American Musical Theater; as such, it should come as no surprise that the Oscar Hammerstein II Collection is one of the more frequently studied collections in the Music Division. The collection is filled with pages and pages of research for his musicals and lyric sketches for individual songs. The new Treasures Gallery features lyric sheets for the song “Do Re Mi” from his final musical, “The Sound of Music” (1959). Watch Michael Feinstein talk through these lyric sheets at the piano in a video he recorded for the Library in 2014; you’ll see close-ups of Hammerstein’s sketches in the video.


“Brighten Beach Memoirs” Draft Material from the Neil Simon Papers

The Library of Congress announced the acquisition of the Neil Simon Papers in 2022 with this video introduction to the collection. Neil Simon, the most successful American playwright in history, contributed countless classic works to the stage and screen, among them: “Barefoot in the Park,” “Sweet Charity,” “The Odd Couple,” “Lost in Yonkers,” and “Brighton Beach Memoirs.” The collection is notable for its tremendous draft material that documents Simon’s creative process; for example, a green notebook features material with the title “War of the Rosens,” which turns out to be an early study for what will become his “Brighten Beach Memoirs.” See more examples of Simon’s draft material in the abovementioned video introduction.


Florence Klotz’s Costume Design for the Character Kayama from “Pacific Overtures”

Florence Klotz (1920-2006) was an American costume designer best known for her work on Broadway musical collaborations with composer Stephen Sondheim and direct Hal Prince, including “Follies” (1971), “A Little Night Music” (1973), and “Pacific Overtures” (1976). The Music Division’s collection of Florence Klotz Costume Designs contains finished costume designs, sketches, fabric samples, and other materials, including a finished design for the character of Kayama in Sondheim’s “Pacific Overtures.”


“We Insist! Max Roach’s Freedom Now Suite,” by Max Roach and Oscar Brown, Jr.

The Max Roach Papers at the Library of Congress provide endless avenues for research in jazz as well as the Civil Rights Movement. In 1960, Roach released his avant-garde jazz album “We Insist! Max Roach’s Freedom Now Suite.” The work, a collaboration with lyricist Oscar Brown Jr., was originally conceived as a project to honor the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation and, through jazz, addresses the history of slavery in America as well as the contemporary fight for civil rights in the United States and South Africa. While the album was released in December 1960, the world premiere performance took place on January 15, 1961, at a benefit for the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). The title is derived from a quote by civil rights leader A. Philip Randolph, “Youth and idealism are unfurling. Masses of Negroes are marching onto the stage of history and demanding their freedom now!” The Max Roach Papers include scores, sketches, lead sheets, and parts for “We Insist!” including the manuscript page on display in the Library’s new Treasures Gallery.


Come see these amazing treasures (and more!) for yourself in the Thomas Jefferson Building. Read about visitor hours, how to reserve free timed-entry tickets, and other exhibitions to enjoy on our Visiting the Library page. See you at the Library!


  1. Finally, how wonderful to have all-LC, permanent, revolving Treasures exhibit back! Hard part, choosing which items to display amongst such riches! Congratulations on Music Div’s choices, only a few of vast possibilities of examples of depth and breadth.

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