Contact: Jill Brett (202) 707-2905, Craig D'Ooge (202) 707-9189

September 24, 1997

Library of Congress Holds Gala to Launch Its Bicentennial

Year 2000 Marks 200 Years

The Library of Congress, the nation's oldest federal cultural institution, will celebrate "Creative America" on Tuesday, October 7, to mark the inauguration of its bicentennial commemoration. The Library of Congress will be 200 years old on April 24, 2000.

The evening will begin at 7 p.m. with a reception in the magnificent Main Reading Room of the Thomas Jefferson Building and continue with a program of dramatic readings and musical performances from the Library's unparalleled collections in the newly renovated Coolidge Auditorium. The Library's collections of more than 112 million items include the manuscripts of 23 presidents as well as inventors, writers, poets and composers.

James Earl Jones will act as master of ceremonies. Opera stars Marilyn Horne and Jerry Hadley will offer selections from the music of Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Irving Berlin and Leonard Bernstein. Distinguished actors Avery Brooks and Zoe Caldwell will read from the works of famous contemporary and historical figures such as Clare Boothe Luce and Thomas Jefferson.

The historic Coolidge Auditorium has been closed for restoration since 1990 and the evening's performance marks its reopening. Considered one of the world's finest acoustic environments, the 485-seat concert hall has been home to many of the legendary creative artists of the century.

Mrs. William N. Cafritz of Washington, D.C. and Mrs. Jack C. Massey of Nashville, Tenn., are co-chairs of the gala. The Honorary Vice-Chairs are Mr. John F. Cooke, Mrs. Charles A. Dana Jr., Mrs. Katharine Graham and Gen. Colin Powell. The event is being underwritten by Bell Atlantic, General Motors and Texaco.

"Creative America" will raise funds to benefit the Library's Bicentennial Fund. The fund will be used to support the Library's nationwide bicentennial and educational outreach programs. It is the first Library of Congress fund-raiser in the history of the institution.

Dinner, tours of the popular permanent exhibition, "American Treasures of the Library of Congress," and dancing to Lester Lanin's orchestra will conclude the festivities.

The press is invited to cover the evening from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. but space is limited. Please contact the Public Affairs Office at (202) 707-2905 for further information.

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PR 97-157
ISSN 0731-3527

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