The Basics

Artist
Materials
Oil on Canvas

In 1783 Representative James Madison introduced a resolution to create a library that would give the Congress access to works about the laws of nations and about American history and affairs. The Library of Congress was founded in 1800 and located in one room in the Capitol; as the collection grew, more and more space was required. This mural depicts the library in the Capitol in 1890, when it had grown to occupy almost the entire west central section of the building. Librarian of Congress Ainsworth Spofford is shown seated at the left.

Left: The teacher and children in a "little red schoolhouse" represent an important part of American education in the 1800s.

Right: Students attend a land grant college, symbolic of the national commitment to higher learning.

About the Cox Corridors Murals

The first floor of the U.S. Capitol's House wing is elaborately decorated with wall and ceiling murals by artist Allyn Cox. The central east-west corridor is referred to as the Great Experiment Hall because it chronicles in 16 murals the legislative milestones of three centuries, from the signing of the Mayflower Compact in 1629 to the enactment of women's suffrage in 1920.