Last day in Washington DC.
We have 2 more destinations on our agenda but in the end we only went for one, the Library of Congress (LoC), Jefferson Building (there are 3 buildings in total making up the congress library). We didn't go to the Postal Museum, another Smithsonian institute as by lunchtime we were "museumed-out".
The LoC Jefferson Building is next to the US Supreme Court so once again we pass the for and against crowds on marriage equality. Now we know what the case was all about, thanks to USA Today online. The case is about benefits and tax treatments for gay spouses, about whether gay couples should have the same benefits as heterosexual couples given that gay marriage is legal in 9 states and in DC. The test case was about an 83 year old woman whose gay partner died and who was slugged with an $360,000 estate tax despite the two of them having lived together for decades. If they were a heterosexual couple, the estate tax would have been zero. We agree with their concerns, seems very unfair.
We arrive at the LoC well before the first guided tour of the day so we explore some of the exhibitions.
A bit of background on the LoC - it is the largest library collection in the world. About 20 millions written pieces, films, music and now they are also getting a copy of every tweet! 7,000 new published works are added each day! It is used as a research library of the public and also of all congress bills. They keep running out of space and are now working to digitalize their collection.
First we wander to the basement for an exhibition about the Gershwins, Ira and George. American music heroes. The LoC has received a huge collection of composing notes, memorabilia and sheet music from Ira and from surviving family members and the estate.
Here is George's piano where many of those memorable songs were created.
We were unable to take photos of the public reading room but were able to download this from the LoC website. This was the view we had from the balcony. We wanted to explore this room more but you need to apply for a reading card and make an appointment to get in. Very grand.