A few weeks ago I mentioned that I was crossing off a venue from my bucket list – the Library of Congress. Well the event we hosted there has come and gone and in the midst of lots of other events, I never had the chance to post some photos or share my thoughts. Then the whole government shutdown happened and I didn’t want to draw attention to a venue that was currently unavailable for use, but now that everything is up and running again, let’s chat about the LoC!
To start, the Library is beautiful. It is amazingly gorgeous. But it is a cultural institution (or a national treasure, if the federal government is telling you) and events are not necessarily easy to put on there. There are a ton of rules – most of which are completely understandable. For example, you can only have events during certain hours. We were not able to have are start time any earlier than 7 PM, so it wouldn’t interfere with regular guests in the space. There is a metal detector that all guests need to use. This isn’t that uncommon in DC, but it may be to some planners. The metal detector ended up being a huge bottleneck for our guests. (You can read more about that in my blog post on timing over at Social Tables). There is no red wine allowed – again, not uncommon for museums or historic sites. The floors and stairs at the Library are marble and red wine would stain.
Our event was a panel discussion followed by a cocktail reception. The acoustics are OK – not as bad as you might think, but not amazing. We had an a/v company handle the sound (the event was also filmed and livestreamed) and you could hear well if you were right in front of the stage, but it was harder to hear as you moved further away.
My favorite part of the event was as the sun went down, the uplighting (already existing in the space) began to shine and truly made the gorgeous art on the ceiling sparkle. The is also a fantastic view of the US Capitol Building.
The one thing I will caution is that with any of the federally operated buildings and museums, you are literally working with the US Government. That means that sometimes, things move slowly. Negotiating is difficult (if not impossible). Just keep that in mind.
Have you hosted or attended an event at the Library? What were your thoughts?