Student Travel Groups Visiting Washington DC Gain New Perspectives from Capitol Dome Repair and Restoration

The deterioration of the dome of America’s Capitol Building has taken a toll on this notable historic structure. With the oxidation of the cast iron girders and mortar in particular, the Capitol Building is in dire need of repair.  Old paint needs to be removed, iron and stone repairs are needed and a fresh coat of paint needs to be expertly applied to one of this country’s most popular landmarks.  This important work must take place over a course of time.  The Capitol Dome in Washington D.C. is a marvel of engineering built during the American Civil War and was subject to the pressures of that era.  Now it will be stabilized and improved using contemporary engineering methods.

Over the years, many structural pieces have already been removed from the Capitol as the building has degraded. But the pieces have been removed to protect passersby below. Now a thorough repair to the Capitol dome will begin, and with it will come a new look at historical perspectives of its design and construction for student travel groups.

The U.S. Capitol Building's iconic dome is an American legacy that must be properly preserved. The Capitol Dome is under renovation to improve its structure.

While the improvements to the Capitol are underway, a vast system of white canopies will be installed to protect the public.  The doughnut shaped configuration of the protective canopy will be lit from within at night while workers reconstruct the dome.  Most work will take place in evenings and on weekends, leaving time and space for student tours of Washington D.C.  In many ways this is the best possible time to be a visitor as tours will include much added information surrounding the reconstruction:  the original engineers, proposed drafts, materials, symbolism, and challenges to building in the midst of the bloody Civil War.

Student groups visiting Washington D.C. will take the official U.S. Capitol Building Tour. This is one of the best tours in D.C., with extremely knowledgeable guides who will help history and social studies students become informed about the Capitol’s history and recent renovations. Capitol Building tours take student groups through the vast halls of national sculpture, paintings and tapestries.  Tours begin in the orientation theaters for viewing the short educational film titled, “Out of Many, One.”  All official tours start at 8:50 a.m. and at 3:20 p.m., every Monday through Saturday.  Have a student travel company with experience in organizing educational trips to Washington D.C. schedule the Capitol tour well in advance, to ensure a visit.

Be sure to be part of the special tour “Capitol and the Congress During Civil War.”  This special tour is in honor of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, and will include exclusive stops at the Old Supreme Court Chambers. Be sure to ask a student travel company representative for passes to this special tour.  There are a limited number of passes given out each day, and the tour begins promptly at 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The U.S. Capitol Dome was constructed during the Civil War era. Learn more about the repairs that are being done on this historic landmark.

The Capitol offers another special tour that is offered Monday through Friday at 2 p.m.:  the Brumidi Corridors Tour.  Designed by Constantino Brumidi in the mid nineteenth century, these corridors are unique in their mastery of painting and tile work.  This tour is approximately thirty minutes in length and takes groups through the Senate wing on the first floor of the Capitol.  The tour guide will discuss the exquisite paintings on the walls and ceiling of the corridor.  There is no other corridor like it, and this tour is strongly recommended.

Every Monday through Friday at 11 a.m. in Exhibition Hall there is a special thirty-minute program called, “Exhibition Hall Family Program.”  This talk details how the Capitol was expanded over time and how it impacts the laws and what goes into making legislative decisions that change all of our lives.

Students may also visit the restaurant or gift shop in the Capitol Building on the lower level of the Capitol Visitor Center. It is open Monday through Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.. The restaurant serves a wide variety of soups, salads, special entrees, pizzas, and desserts – all recipe items designed to reflect the different regions of the United States. The gift shop specializes in merchandize inspired by the U.S. Capitol’s art and architecture.

Learn more about a school trip to Washington D.C.  Or, request a quote by filling out a short inquiry online.

Library of Congress: an Essential Part of Student Trips to Washington D.C.

by Howard Clemens

A student trip to Washington D.C. would be incomplete without a tour of the greatest library on Earth. The Library of Congress in Washington DC first opened its doors in 1800. Ever since then the library has been working hard to serve the Congress and the American people, not only as an invaluable library for the Congress, but to further the creativity of the nation. Besides providing a congressional research service, the library also hosts the American Folklife Center, the American Memory project, the Center for the Book, as well as the Poet Laureate.

When the British attempted to destroy the library in 1814 by burning the capitol and pillaging the thousands of bookshelves, retired president Thomas Jefferson offered his own personal library as replacement. Jefferson was said to have the finest library in the United States at the time, and in 1815 congress accepted his nearly 6,500 books. History, philosophy, literature, and fine arts books made up the Jefferson collection. The Jefferson Building was built after ratifying all published materials should have two copies sent to the library.

Main Reading Room, Library of Congress, Jefferson Building, Washington D.C.

Exhibitions at the Library of Congress

Exhibitions currently running include The Civil War in America. There are 200 unique items on display, including many on display for the first time. Teachers can encourage students to read and comment on an ongoing blog of Civil War Voices available on the Library of Congress website. Also newly on display is Abel Buell’s map of the United States. There were only seven copies made in 1784 of the newly independent nation, having broken away from England. There is a copy of the original map on display at the library, not to be missed! There is also a copy of the first draft of the Gettysburg Address on display, something everyone will want to see and talk about!

History of U.S. Science, Technology and Business in Library of Congress

There is a remarkable collection of prints, photos and recordings on American science, technology and business, from extremely rare paintings of birds by John James Audubon to Sigmund Freud’s letters. There is also an exhibit on the 100th birthday of the Harley Davidson motorcycle, and the inventions of the telephone and dreams of flight becoming a reality. The establishment of Yosemite National Park and other land conservation initiatives are also part of the collection, including details on the evolution of the conservation movement from 1850 to 1920.

Besides the amazing array of American scientific and historical maps, letters, photos and objects on display, there is also a very large collection documenting the performing arts including theater, music and dance at the library. Photographs, music scores and recordings are housed at the library, including American Yiddish sheet music currently on exhibition from the Irene Heskes collection. Much of this collection originates from the Lower East Side and Bowery of New York City from 1880 to the mid twentieth century.

Student Travel To DC: Viewing America in Retrospect

Another popular exhibit is “100 Years Ago Today,” where newspapers from 100 years ago are displayed from the very date of the student group’s visit. For instance student groups can view papers like The Washington Herald, The Amarillo Daily News, and The Tombstone Epitaph. It is fascinating to see what was going on exactly a century ago when visiting the Library of Congress. A century of newspapers from every corner of the United States are on display, such as The Salt Lake Tribune and the Tulsa Daily World.

From the history of advertising to American literature and culture – many subjects can be explored at the Library of Congress, an essential stop on any student tour of Washington DC. Other topics for social studies and history students include: wars, religions, immigration documents and the great American Expansion. The history of Civil Rights, Women’s Rights, and the history of Native Americans can be found, read, studied, and explored at Library of Congress, too. From little towns to big cities, the United States has done one of the best jobs the world has ever seen in documenting a nation’s history and culture.

Learn more about student travel to Washington D.C. visit