Library of Congress Takes to the Road, Bringing Rolling Exhibition to the Heartland

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The Library of Congress will launch a new traveling exhibition late in September that will bring facsimiles of many of its top treasures and information about the millions of resources in its unparalleled collections to the heartland of America. “Gateway to Knowledge,” an exhibition that will travel in a specially fitted-out 18-wheel truck, will launch from the site of the National Book Festival on the National Mall late in September, and will initially travel to sites in Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia.

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The Library is energized by the prospects of the Abby and Emily Rapoport Traveling Exhibition playing an important role in sharing the national collection with the people to whom it belongs.

The Library of Congress will launch a new traveling exhibition late in September that will bring facsimiles of many of its top treasures and information about the millions of resources in its unparalleled collections to the heartland of America. “Gateway to Knowledge,” an exhibition that will travel in a specially fitted-out 18-wheel truck, will launch from the site of the National Book Festival on the National Mall late in September, and will initially travel to sites in Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia.

Ultimately, “Gateway to Knowledge” is expected to visit up to 60 sites in states across the Midwest and South over the next year.

The exhibition was the idea of philanthropists Abby and Emily Rapoport, the granddaughters of Audre and Bernie Rapoport, founding members of the Library’s private-sector support organization, The James Madison Council. The young Rapoports have donated $1 million to the Library to make the “Gateway to Knowledge” exhibition possible and bring the Library’s riches to areas of the nation – particularly rural areas – that may not be aware of their access to the wealth of information in this publicly funded institution.

“As both a storehouse of world knowledge and primary resource for the U.S. Congress, the Library is energized by the prospects of the Abby and Emily Rapoport Traveling Exhibition playing an important role in sharing the national collection with the people to whom it belongs,” said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington.

The exhibit will include programming especially for teachers and students and provide relevant and engaging learning experiences for lifelong learners. The truck, which will be staffed and driven by two docents well-versed in the Library and its collections, will be parked at various schools, libraries, community centers and other public venues. The trailer expands to twice its road width, and visitors will enter from a central staircase to find several areas of museum-style exhibits including a welcoming multimedia display, computer terminals displaying Library of Congress websites including the main site, http://www.loc.gov and other library websites including the Center for the Book/ Literacy Programs site http://www.read.gov and sites pertaining to U.S. collections, exhibitions and a special site for use by teachers.

The exhibition will also outline the history of the Library, including Thomas Jefferson’s role in allowing its re-establishment following the burning of the U.S. Capitol in 1814 by providing his personal book collection to the nation. Jefferson’s organization of his books by “Memory, Reason and Imagination” will inform the organization of the exhibition, which will feature facsimiles of such treasures as the 1507 Waldseemüller Map (the first document to use the word “America”); the 1455 Gutenberg Bible; the rough draft of the Declaration of Independence, in Thomas Jefferson’s hand with edits by Benjamin Franklin and John Adams; the original 1962 drawings for the comic book that introduced Spiderman to the world; the handwritten manuscript to jazz pioneer Jelly Roll Morton’s “Frog-i-More Rag”; and Walt Whitman’s poem “Leaves of Grass.”

Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution. The Library seeks to spark imagination and creativity and to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections, programs and exhibitions.

PR 10-195
09/13/10
ISSN 0731-3527

Tour Stops for the Library of Congress “Gateway to Knowledge” Traveling Exhibition

  •     Sept. 25, 2010, Library of Congress National Book Festival, National Mall, Washington, D.C.
  •     Sept. 27-28, Museum of the Shenandoah Valley, Winchester, Va.
  •     Sept. 30, Canal Place, Cumberland, Md.

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Matt Raymond

Seth de Matties
Library of Congress
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