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Fresh Eyes on a Classic: Photographers Share Pictures of the Main Reading Room on Flickr

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The following is a guest post by Katherine Blood, Curator of Fine Prints.

Visitor photographing the Library of Congress Main Reading Room. Photo by Katherine Blood, 2013 Feb. 18.
Visitor photographing the Library of Congress Main Reading Room. Photo by Katherine Blood, 2013 Feb. 18.

American author Dan Brown has famously described the Library of Congress Main Reading Room as the most beautiful room in Washington, D.C. (The Lost Symbol). While it is routinely open to researchers, drop-in visitors had the rare treat of photographing this inspiring space during our Spring Open House on President’s Day. We invited those with cameras in tow to share their images on the Library’s Flickr site. Selected favorites from participants appear in three galleries called LOC Open House 2013 Spring.

A number of photographers trained their lenses skyward to capture the Main Reading Room’s spectacular domed ceiling. Others focused on specific artworks, including the dome’s signature allegorical painting by Edwin Blashfield (see if you can spot his idealized portrait of Abraham Lincoln in the Flickr galleries). Colorful books on alcove shelves were another favorite subject along with the Library’s card catalog, which garnered shots of wooden drawers scarred with use, hand-written entries, and ad hoc researchers thumbing through these vast indexes.

As a staff member who knows and loves this space well, I was impressed by how the participating photographers collectively showcased not only the grandeur of the Main Reading Room’s art and architecture, but also the sense you get there of a living think tank where old ideas can be explored and new ideas conceived.

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  1. i’d love to visit that MAIN ROom of THE library OF congress, i’ll put it on my itenerary of things to do before i die, one OF which IS to GET married.

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