The Great Hall of the Library of CongressThe Library of Congress is one of the most impressive buildings I’ve ever visited. When you stand in the Thomas Jefferson Building’s Grand Hall, you almost don’t know which way to look. There are magnificent views in every direction. That also makes it an interesting room to photograph.
Most of the shots that I saw of this building didn’t include the stained glass ceiling. The few that did were fisheye shots that, in my opinion, just destroyed the beauty of the view. I understand the desire to try and get it all in your shot, but you also lose something when you distort the lines by using a fisheye. That’s a lens that works well in arenas and stadiums, but not so much here.
Looking up inside the Library of Congress can make you feel a bit dizzy. Not just here in the Great Hall, but also in the Grand Reading Room. What I wouldn’t have given to be able to take photos in there, but that room was off limits to my camera. I’m happy with the opportunities I received, though This is one of those places where the old maxim of looking behind you after you take a photo is insufficient. You need to look up and down, too. I’m still kicking myself for the shots that I didn’t think to take while I was there in the Grand Hall. Perhaps next time.
I was reading the MyLOC.gov site. Here’s something it said about the Library of Congress that caught my attention.
When its doors opened to the public in 1897, the Library of Congress represented an unparalleled national achievement, the “largest, costliest, and safest” library in the world.
Its elaborately decorated interior, embellished by works of art from nearly fifty American painters and sculptors, linked the United States to classical traditions of learning and simultaneously flexed American cultural and technological muscle.
I understand that it was the largest and costliest, but safest? I didn’t know that libraries were unsafe. Live and learn. Isn’t that why we have a Library of Congress, after all?
If you go visit Washington, D.C., take some time to visit the Library of Congress. Just spend a moment enjoying the splendor of the Great Hall. Soak in the history. Then you can go home and wonder why all so much of our modern art and architecture is so damn unimaginative.