"The Thomas Jefferson Building: Book Palace of the American People," an exhibition marking the centennial of the opening of the Jefferson Building, will be on view in the Library's Great Hall through April 30, 1998.
The exhibition focuses on the excitement the new Library of Congress generated during its first decades. Upon its opening on the rainy Monday morning of Nov. 1, 1897, this new national "temple of art" met with overwhelming approval from both Congress and the American public.
Many of the 165 items on display are from the private collections of Library of Congress employees, who continue to take great pride in what postcards at the time called "the world's most beautiful building." The eclectic assortment includes paintings, mirrors, trinket boxes, scissors, letter openers, watch fobs, a buttonhook, trays, paperweights, napkin rings, plates, cups and saucers, spoons, plaques and pillows.
The exhibition is divided into three sections: "The Building Opens," which includes prints, stereographic views and photographs of the new structure, as well as accounts and illustrations from Harper's Weekly, The Century and other contemporary periodicals; "The New Library at Work," which includes copies of photographs of various Library offices from an exhibition at the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis and equipment used during the Library's early years, particularly in the Copyright Office; and "Souvenir Objects Showing the Library," which features souvenir items and contemporary advertisements.
In addition to a checklist of items displayed, the exhibition is accompanied by a brochure that includes an essay, "Book Palace of the American People: A Brief History," by John Y. Cole, director of the Center for the Book. Mr. Cole and Frank Evina of the Copyright Office served as advisers to the Interpretive Programs Office in organizing the exhibition. Martha Hopkins of the Interpretive Programs Office is the exhibit director.