Newman Exploration Center and Thomas Gallery open in Olin Library

Jessica Bigley | Staff Reporter

An open house event allowed Washington University students, faculty and St. Louis residents to tour the recently opened Newman Tower of Collections and Exploration and the Thomas Gallery last Thursday.

Olin Library, which was under construction for over a year and a half, will reach the conclusion of its major renovations when it acquires a rare copy of the Declaration of Independence May 1.

The display in the recently completed Olin Library renovation which will contain an original copy of the Declaration of Independence. The document will be on display starting May 1.Jennifer Ra | Student Life

The display in the recently completed Olin Library renovation which will contain an original copy of the Declaration of Independence. The document will be on display starting May 1.

The gallery features an exhibit of dedications to influential students and alumni, including Tennessee Williams, Mary Strauss and A.E. Hotchner, with biographies and related memorabilia.

“Every detail was carefully planned. Every piece of art, furniture and decor was chosen by a team of designers and library staff to create a vibrant and inviting space for students,” Newman Exploration Center guide Jen Killion said.

According to Killion, the display of the Declaration of Independence is expected to be a major event for the Washington University and St. Louis communities.

“This [decision to renovate] has been a few years in the works. A lot of it stemmed from the gift of the Declaration of Independence from the Newman family and their desire to also have it accessible to everyone,” Associate University Librarian for Special Collections Nadia Ghasedi said.

IMG_1246Jennifer Ra | Student Life

Renovations to the library were funded by donor contributions and give the University an opportunity to display materials from cultural institutions like the Missouri History Museum.

In addition to the Special Collections, new integrated classrooms were built for students to study with peers to engage in active forms of learning.

“In terms of Olin Library Transformation, we are creating a more holistic, student-centered program where we are engaging with students in the classroom…to talk about finding, evaluating and using information,” Information Literacy Coordinator Amanda Albert said.

The placement of the rare document and addition of new classrooms is predicted to bring people from the larger community to Washington University.

“We really hope that the community does take advantage of these wonderful resources and engages with them,” Ghasedi said.

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