The artwork and inscriptions on the walls and ceilings highlight notable events and profound thoughts on the topics of:
civilization, science, art, literature, music, culture, self-confidence, sports, culture and religion.
The Library of Congress’ Rare Book Division has 1,470 Bibles dating from the beginning of printing, including one of three existing copies of the original 15th Century GUTENBERG BIBLE on vellum.
James H. Hutson, Ph.D., Chief of the Library of Congress’ Manuscript Division, produced an online exhibit, “Religion and the Founding of the American Republic.”
The Jefferson Building, with 104 miles of shelves, has three massive bronze doors at it Main Entrance representing Tradition, Printing, and Writing.
The right-hand door, representing WRITING, has above it four figures depicting groups who influenced the world by written literature:
a CHRISTIAN, and
The dome above the North lobby of the Great Hall’s stairway has:
KNOWLEDGE IS POWER – Sir Francis Bacon, De Hoeresibus
Above the Reading Room central door to the left is the painting titled “CORRUPT LEGISLATION LEADS TO ANARCHY” where the figure representing Anarchy is burning the scroll of learning while she tramples on a Bible.
In the Main Reading Room has above the figure of History:
ONE GOD, ONE LAW, ONE ELEMENT, AND ONE FAR-OFF DIVINE EVENT, TO WHICH THE WHOLE CREATION MOVES – Tennyson, In Memoriam
Above the figure of Religion is:
WHAT DOTH THE LORD REQUIRE OF THEE, BUT TO DO JUSTLY, AND TO LOVE MERCY, AND TO WALK HUMBLY WITH THY GOD? – Holy Bible, Micah 6:8
Above the figure of Science is:
THE HEAVENS DECLARE THE GLORY OF GOD; AND THE FIRMAMENT SHEWETH HIS HANDIWORK. – Holy Bible, Psalms 19:1
The bronze statues along the balustrade of the galleries included MOSES and ST. PAUL.
On the Main Reading Room dome are murals with figures representing countries and their contributions to civilization.
Among them are: JUDEA-RELIGION, with a pillar inscribed in Hebrew characters “THOU SHALT LOVE THEY NEIGHBOR AS THYSELF.” (Leviticus 19:18)
THE LIGHT SHINETH IN DARKNESS, AND THE DARKNESS COMPREHENDETH NOT – Holy Bible, John, 1:5
THE FIRST CREATURE OF GOD WAS THE LIGHT OF SENSE; THE LAST WAS THE LIGHT OF REASON – Bacon, Essays, “Of Truth”
The North tablet has:
ALL ARE BUT PARTS OF ONE STUPENDOUS WHOLE, WHOSE BODY NATURE IS, AND GOD THE SOUL – Pope, Essay on Man, “Epistle” i, 267
The Jefferson Building’s North Corridor has round tablets with the quotations:
WISDOM IS THE PRINCIPAL THING; THEREFORE GET WISDOM; AND WITH ALL THY GETTING, GET UNDERSTANDING – Holy Bible, Proverbs 4:7
IGNORANCE IS THE CURSE OF GOD, KNOWLEDGE THE WING WHEREWITH WE FLY TO HEAVEN – Shakespeare, Henry IV, pt. ii, Act iv., Sc. 7
ORDER IS HEAVEN’S FIRST LAW – Pope, Essay on Man “Epistle,” iv., 49
The Northeast Pavilion ceiling shows the Great Seal of the United States with a narrow blue band inscribed:
THAT THIS NATION, UNDER GOD, SHALL HAVE A NEW BIRTH OF FREEDOM; THAT GOVERNMENT OF THE PEOPLE, BY THE PEOPLE, FOR THE PEOPLE, SHALL NOT PERISH FROM THE EARTH – Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address, November 19, 1863
THANK GOD, I ALSO AM AN AMERICAN! – Daniel Webster, Address at Charlestown, Mass., June 17, 1843, Dedication of Bunker Hill Monument.
TO BE PREPARED FOR WAR IS ONE OF THE MOST EFFECTIVE MEANS OF PRESERVING PEACE – George Washington, Speech to Congress, January 8, 1790.
The John Adams Building is five stories high with 180 miles of shelving which can hold ten million volumes.
Its South Reading Room has murals, including one depicting:
THE PEOPLE OF EVERY COUNTRY ARE THE ONLY SAFE GUARDIANS OF THEIR OWN RIGHTS, AND ARE THE ONLY INSTRUMENTS WHICH CAN BE USED FOR THEIR DESTRUCTION. – Jefferson to John Wyche, May 19, 1809
The James Madison Memorial Building has Madison’s quotations:
THE ESSENCE OF GOVERNMENT IS POWER; AND POWER, LODGED AS IT MUST BE IN HUMAN HANDS, WILL EVER BE LIABLE TO ABUSE – Speech before the Virginia State Constitutional Convention, December 1, 1829
A MAN IS SAID TO HAVE A RIGHT TO HIS PROPERTY, HE MAY BE EQUALLY SAID TO HAVE A PROPERTY IN HIS RIGHTS – National Gazette, March 29, 1792
THE HAPPY UNION OF THESE STATES IS A WONDER: THEIR CONSTITUTION A MIRACLE: THEIR EXAMPLE THE HOPE OF LIBERTY THROUGHOUT THE WORLD – “Outline Notes,” September 1829
Another notable building in Washington, D.C., is Union Station.
A quote inscribed at the Attic of State Entrance, South Elevation, is:
LET ALL THE ENDS THOU AIMST AT BE
THY COUNTRY’S – THY GOD’S – AND TRUTH’S.
On the Attic of Central Pavilion, Eastern Panel, is a quote from Isaiah 35:1:
THE DESERT SHALL REJOICE AND BLOSSOM AS A ROSE.
On Union Station’s Attic of Central Pavilion, Central Panel, is a quote from the Book of John 8:33, where Jesus said:
THE TRUTH SHALL MAKE YOU FREE.
On Union Station’s Attic of Central Pavilion, Western Panel, is a quote from the Book of Hebrews 2:8, declaring that all of creation is subject to Jesus Christ: