The Library has won a design award for the "Top Treasures" display case in "American Treasures of the Library of Congress," a permanent, rotating exhibition that showcases the Library's most important American history materials.
The award is from Inform, a quarterly magazine for professional architects, designers, historic preservationists and those involved in the decorative arts published by the Virginia Society of the American Institute of Architects.
"The Library's Preservation program has been a leader in the field for years. I am proud that our expertise is so useful not only in the conservation of Library materials, but also in their display as well," said Diane Kresh, the Library's Director of Preservation. The Preservation directorate oversaw the creation of the case. Planning began in the spring of 1996, a contract was awarded in August of 1996, and the case was completed in April of 1997.
Inform Editor Vernon Mays made the award Dec. 12, 1997, and an article was published in a subsequent issue of the 8,000-circulation magazine, which noted that "the demand for internal mechanical security and electrical components exerted a strong influence on the massing of the case," which is 12 feet long by 10 feet high and weighs 3 tons. It consists of a high-hard-steel display chamber within an exterior of maple veneer with mahogany inlays. On either side, two large viewing windows are glazed with a specially rated ballistics polycarbonate and glass laminate. Temperature and humidity can be maintained within minimum tolerances of plus or minus 1 degree Fahrenheit or 1 percent humidity. Although currently set for preservation conditions of 50 degrees and 50 percent relative humidity, higher temperatures can be maintained.
The case was built according to the highest standards of preservation and security to display the most rare, valuable and fragile items in the "American Treasures" exhibition, the only permanent exhibition ever mounted by the Library of Congress.
The case was developed by the Library in cooperation with EXPLUS Inc. of Dulles, Va. Subcontractors were: George Sexton Associates, Washington, D.C. (design and lighting), Landmark Facilities Group Inc. (environmental design), ATS (environmental systems), BFPE (fire suppression), Chapman Ducibella Associates (security) and Brian Ramer (conservation). George Sexton Associates submitted the case for the award.
Since the exhibition opened May 1,1997, the case has housed several of the Library's top treasures serially, including Thomas Jefferson's original "rough draft" of the Declaration of Independence, George Mason's "Virginia Declaration of Rights" and George Washington's commission as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army. Currently, Abraham Lincoln's rough draft of the Emancipation Proclamation is in the case.
"American Treasures of the Library of Congress" is made possible by a $1.1 million grant from the Xerox Foundation. For recorded information about the exhibition, call (202) 707-3834, (202) 707-6200 TTY.