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Icons of Knowledge: Architecture and Symbolism in National Libraries

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Sep 21, 2016) - Library and Archives Canada is pleased to announce the opening of a new exhibition that explores the architecture of national libraries and their complex and fascinating relationship to a nation's culture and history.

Created by architects Daniel V. Rauchwerger and Noam Dvir, this first-of-a-kind exhibition presents a graphic cross section of national library buildings-amongst the most symbolic icons of modern day countries.

Drawing on historical materials collected from libraries and architects worldwide, the exhibition features examples like the majestic Baroque interiors of the Austrian National Library, Neoclassical masterpieces like Biblioteca Nacional de España, the Post-Soviet construction boom as displayed in the Belarus National Library, as well as recent ultramodern projects in Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

The exhibition's official public opening will take place on September 22, 2016, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at 395 Wellington Street in Ottawa. Icons of Knowledge runs until February 20, 2017.

Quick Facts

  • The Icons of Knowledge exhibition is based on an original study by architects Daniel V. Rauchwerger and Noam Dvir and was originally presented at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design.
  • Since their emergence in the late 15th century in the kingdoms of Europe, national libraries have served as a central device in the construction of national identities.


"This exhibition shows that the architecture of national libraries is a strong statement by countries of how they view knowledge."

Dr. Guy Berthiaume, Librarian and Archivist of Canada

Related links

- Blog - Newly digitized images of the construction of 395 Wellington

- Canadian Libraries Flickr set

- Library and Archives Canada's Events

About Library and Archives Canada

The mandate of Library and Archives Canada is to preserve the documentary heritage of Canada for the benefit of present and future generations, and to be a source of enduring knowledge accessible to all, thereby contributing to the cultural, social and economic advancement of Canada. Library and Archives Canada also facilitates co-operation among communities involved in the acquisition, preservation and diffusion of knowledge, and serves as the continuing memory of the Government of Canada and its institutions.

Stay connected with Library and Archives Canada on Twitter (@LibraryArchives), Facebook, Flickr and YouTube.