Research Center Main Reading Room

Art and Architecture of the Main Reading Room

For more than one hundred years, the Main Reading Room has awed researchers with the beauty of its architecture and the breadth of its reference collection. The sculptures and paintings, rare marbles, harmonious colors, and ornamentation unite with the lofty architectural design to form one of the most spectacular interiors in the country. 

When the Thomas Jefferson Building opened in 1897, the Main Reading Room - inspired by the British Museum Library - became the central access point to the Library’s general collections. To this day, it remains a vibrant working reading room that serves as the primary entrance to our vast research collections and the principal reading room for works in history, humanities, social sciences, and genealogy. Researchers from around the world conduct their studies in this inspiring space. Discover more about the art, architecture and history of the space.


Library of Congress
10 First Street, SE
Thomas Jefferson Building, LJ 100
Washington, DC 20540-4810


Public Hours
Monday through Thursday 8:30 a.m. - 8:30 p.m.
Friday, Saturday 8:30am - 5:00pm
Closed Sundays & Federal Holidays
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