The NAS Building

Library and the Members' Room

The Library, on the Academy's west front to the left of the entrance foyer, was converted in 1997 to a study and meeting area for Academy members. The room preserves the building's green and white color scheme in its creamy Lens stone walls and slate floor.

The center of interest is the fireplace at the end of the room, with its carved overmantel representing the history of the art of writing. Chronological sequence is ordered from the bottom of the carving to the top. Figures include a prehistoric man and woman decorating a cave; the bison of the Magdalenian Period (30,000 B.C. to 10,000 B.C.) As found in the Altamira Cave near Santander, Spain; Egyptian priests carving and painting hieroglyphics; and men making papyrus and engaged in scroll writing. The top sequence depicts monastic scholars illuminating manuscripts and the Plantin press, an important printing house in 16th century Antwerp. Symbols from ancient alphabets decorate spaces between panels. A slender obelisk forms the axis of this sculptural relief, which bears the motto: To ages yet unborn, in accents yet unknown. Three ceiling panels depict discovery, the recording of discovery, and the reading of the record.

Adjoining the Library, the Members' Room was originally designed as a place for hospitality, conversation, relaxation, or as a meeting room; it is currently used for meetings and special functions. It retains vestiges of neoclassical decoration, primarily a columnar motif on the walls that are paneled with walnut to about two-thirds of their height. Above this wainscoting, a painted frieze by Albert Herter presents stylized insignia of eight historic universities: Harvard, Yale, Bologna, Paris, Heidelberg, Leiden, Cambridge, and Oxford. A draped female figure and the initials NAS, carved in the Sienna marble fireplace, are Lawrie's art deco version of the Academy seal. The room also contains portraits and busts of former NAS presidents and a cabinet displaying replicas of medals awarded by the Academy.

Read More:

... A Temple of Science  Recognition of Need  The Architect  The Setting and the Grounds  Description of the Building  The Façade  The Window Panels  The Doors  The Main Foyer and the Great Hall  The Library and the Members' Room  The Lecture Room and the Board Room  The Wings  The Auditorium  The Albert Einstein Memorial

Photo of overmantel by Shonna Valeska
Color photo by Carol M. Highsmith

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