AAA Editor Notes
Thomas Jefferson Building is across from the United States Capitol at 10 1st St. S.E., one of three buildings comprising the Library of Congress. The first of the three to open (in 1897), the Jefferson Building also stands out for its richly ornamental Italian Renaissance architecture. The octagonal Main Reading Room is visually stunning, a feast of elaborately painted vaulting, sculptures, paintings, murals and mosaics. Especially noteworthy is the mural of 12 seated figures around the collar of the 160-foot-tall dome; each figure is 10 feet tall and represents contributions to civilization made by countries, cultures or epochs. Walk-in visitors can view the room from the Visitors' Gallery.
The Great Hall is similarly ornate, rising 75 feet from a marble floor to a stained-glass ceiling and filled with sculptures, paintings and mosaics. Among the ongoing exhibitions are Exploring the Early Americas and Thomas Jefferson’s Library. A tunnel connects the building with the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center.
Note: Visitors must pass through security. Researchers must obtain a reader card by presenting a valid photo ID to gain access to the library's reading rooms and collections.