Friday, November 20, 2015

Library of Congress Field Trip

We took a Rivendell field trip to the Library of Congress this morning.  This is a place we had never been before, and I wasn't really sure what to expect.  Emily, our field-trip coodinator extraordinaire, set up a tour for us.  We divided into 2 groups:  junior high and high schoolers were one, and everyone under 6th grade were another.  All together, we had 24 kids, 6 kids, and 1 grandma.  The tours each did a part for 45 minutes, and then we switched, so we each got a complete tour.  I went with the younger kids, and I had a fantastic time--mainly because Luke stayed home and watched my 4 youngest, plus Christine's youngest.  So we could have had 6 more kids along!  I was thrilled to not be carrying a diaper bag, pushing a stroller, and trying to keep hungry, tired, crabby toddlers from being loud and running around.
We started out in the great hall, which was amazing, architecturally.  I LOVED all the intricate details and all the light.  I could have stayed for a lot longer, reading the names of all the great thinkers and writers up on the (extremely high) ceiling. The room was just so stunning.

There were just so many details to notice!  All these little carved cherubs (called some other word--possibly Italian?--I should look that up, but who has time?--something like "putti") have little details concerning their occupations carved up there with them.
Behind this staircase there was a little display of some actual medieval illuminated, hand-copied books.  So amazing!  The colors were so vivid!  They had some Bibles in another case.  They didn't have the beautiful illustrations, but whoa, was the print small.  It gave me a hand cramp to look at it and imagine copying it by hand!
Then we got to see the actual Guttenburg Bible, one of only 3 that survive which are printed on vellum rather than paper.  We had just listened to a Peace Hill Press book about Johannes Guttenburg on CD on our trip down to visit Nathan, so we were all up on his life, and all his financial difficulties.
Next we peeked into the main reading room.  There is a huge and glorious dome for the ceiling, so the room is flooded with natural light.  What a wonderful place to do research!
They have all these statues of wise men ringing the upper balcony.  Right next to our viewing area were Isaac Newton and Moses himself.  I'm sure it looked just like him!
After a quick walk-through of Thomas Jefferson's library, of which 1/3 are the original books he himself owned, we traded guides with the older kids.  The new guide did a hands-on demonstration of early American printing tools and the process they used.  It was really interesting, and I think it wasn't too terribly much different from what Guttenburg himself used.  Jonathan thought that was the most interesting part of the tour, followed closely by the Jefferson library.
Then we met back up in the great hall to take some group pictures.
Here are the Rivendell teachers, except for Christine (and Siri).  We're under a mosaic of "Minerva", the Roman goddess of wisdom, which we thought was appropriate, lol.
  And here is some of us with some of the McC kids.  After much consternation on my part about how to get downtown, where to park, etc., Bob came up with a genius plan.  He went in to work late after driving us downtown and dropping us off.  Then he drove on to work and worked a few hours.  When we were done, he drove back over and picked us up, and then we dropped him back off, so he can take the bus home tonight.  Yay--no maneuvering the big van around downtown for me, and (most importantly), no need to park!  It worked out really nicely.  The weather was perfect, the tour guides were interesting and nice, and it was a lovely time!

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