December 15, 1998
"American Treasures" Exhibition To Feature Holiday Items
Beginning Friday, December 18, the continuing "American Treasures of the Library of Congress" exhibition will feature several holiday-related items:
Christmas cards from the collection of Charles and Ray Eames, perhaps the most influential designers of the 20th century. The cards are a delightful glimpse into the creativity of their colleagues and friends, including major figures in the fields of design and art, such as abstract expressionist Jackson Pollock.
Irving Berlin's "I Remember Christmas" and "White Christmas." This music manuscript is one of Berlin's experiments with a "double song" -- two sets of melodies and lyrics that could be sung together. Paired with this unpublished manuscript is Bing Crosby's famous 1942 DECCA recording of "White Christmas."
Benjamin Brown French's diary entry from December 25, 1851, in which he describes the fires that engulfed the Capitol, burning 25,000 volumes in the Library of Congress, then housed there. French's diaries provide colorful descriptions of Washington life from the Jacksonian era through Reconstruction.
The holiday items will be on display through mid- February. The rotating exhibition, with its selection of more than 240 rare books, music, manuscripts, maps, photographs, drawings, audio clips and videotapes, gives visitors a firsthand look at a cross section of the Library's vast repository, sometimes called "America's Memory." Highlights of "American Treasures" include the contents of Abraham Lincoln's pockets on the night of his assassination, early baseball cards, Maya Lin's original drawing for the design of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and a photograph of the Wright brothers' first flight taken at the instant of takeoff.
The exhibition is made possible by a generous grant from the Xerox Foundation.
Highlight tours, or "Treasure-Talks," of noteworthy objects on display in the exhibition are conducted by Library curators. These talks are held on Wednesdays from 12 to 12:30 p.m. in the Treasures Gallery. For a current schedule of Treasure-Talks, consult the Library's World Wide Web site at www.loc.gov/treasures/amtrtalk.html.
The "American Treasures" exhibition is available on-line at www.loc.gov. The on-line version of the exhibition allows viewers to see 264 items from the exhibition and read about their significance to United States history.
An audio tour featuring selections from the Library's collection of sound recordings provides an array of memories, many of them drawn from the early years of radio and TV broadcasting archived in the Library's collections. Listeners can hear both narration about, and the actual voices of, presidents, poets and other famous figures, including Theodore Roosevelt, Robert Frost and Woodrow Wilson. The random-access audio device also features music, including the voices of Beverly Sills and Jelly Roll Morton. Visitors may rent the wand for $2.50.
Harry N. Abrams Inc. has published a companion volume with an introduction by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Garry Wills and a foreword by Librarian of Congress James H. Billington. American Treasures in the Library of Congress: Memory/Reason/Imagination ($39.95) is available in the Library sales shops and wherever books are sold.
The exhibition is on the second level of the gloriously restored, 100-year-old Thomas Jefferson Building. The Library is closed on Sundays and federal holidays. It will open on Saturday, December 26, but close on Friday, January 1. Both the building and the exhibition are barrier-free and accessible to persons with disabilities. Entrance is free. Groups of 10 or more are requested to call the Visitor Services Office at (202) 707-9779 to arrange a tour. For recorded information about the exhibition, call (202) 707- 3834, (202) 707-6200 TTY.
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