Metro Weekly

Library of Congress reopens just in time for “Summer Movies on the Lawn”

The nation's oldest federal cultural institution also offers exhibits on Rosa Parks, women's suffrage, and the Early Americas

library of congress
Library of Congress: Thomas Jefferson Building

What is considered in everything but name as the nation’s library, also the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution and the largest institution of its kind in the world, has reopened its spectacular main Thomas Jefferson building for the first time since the pandemic began — although only for those who procure free, limited-time, ticketed entry passes.

The passes, providing entry Thursdays through Saturdays between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. for those who adhere to social distancing and face-mask policies, allow guests to explore the Jefferson building and peruse several of its exhibitions, including “Rosa Parks: In Her Own Words,” “Shall Not Be Denied: Women Fight for the Vote,” “Thomas Jefferson’s Library,” “Exploring the Early Americas,” and “Mapping a New Nation: Abel Buell’s Map of the United States, 1784.”

In addition, every Thursday evening at sundown through the first week of August the library presents outdoor screenings. The fourth annual “LOC Summer Movies on the Lawn” outdoor film festival includes selections from the Library’s National Film Registry.

This year’s lineup includes Shrek, the animated tale of a green-skinned, solitude-loving ogre from 2001, on July 15; Toy Story, the popular 1995 animated favorite from Pixar, on July 22; The Sound of Music, the classic musical from 1965 screened with “Audience Singalong,” on July 29; Jurassic Park, the blockbuster dinosaur fantasy from 1993, on Aug. 5; and The Princess Bride, the popular contemporary take on classic fairy tales from 1987, on Aug. 12.

Movies screen Thursdays at sundown (approximately 8:30 p.m.), with guests permitted starting at 6:30 p.m., on the north lawn of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. SE. No tickets required but capacity will be limited, with attendees encouraged to wear masks and assigned locations in groups, spaced at least six feet apart.

The Library has also reopened some of its reading rooms to researchers through a separate appointment system. Still to reopen, later this summer is the Librarian’s Ceremonial Office in the Great Hall, the exhibit “Here to Stay: The Legacy of George and Ira Gershwin,” and the Herblock Gallery. Library-sponsored on-site events will resume in the fall. Visit

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