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MLK Library’s Grand Reading Room ceiling will become a work of art

To submit a proposal for the art project, the deadline is August 31

Artists now have the opportunity to make their mark on Washington, D.C.’s central library, the Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) Library.

In an open call, the D.C. Public Library, in partnership with the DC Public Library Foundation, is asking for artists to submit proposals for a brand new painting on the ceiling of the Grand Reading Room, which is located on the third floor on the eastern side of the building by 9th Street NW.

According to the D.C. Public Library website:

“The goals for the ceiling treatment are to represent D.C.’s landscape and/or streetscape; create a thematic connection between the third floor Grand Reading Room and the Special Collections area on the fourth floor; complement the architect's’ vision for a light-filled, quiet, relaxing space for reading and solitary study that harmonizes with Mies van der Rohe’s modernist design; distinguish the Grand Reading Room with an iconic visual feature, with the potential to increase a sense of community connection to the Library and its resources; and honor Dr. King’s legacy and love of books by enhancing spaces for lifelong learning that are welcoming and accessible to all.”

The double-height ceiling measures 55.6 feet by 25.6 feet. Artists and designers, ages 18 and older, must send samples of past work and a statement that explains the relevance to past work. To submit, go to Submittable. The deadline is August 31. Semifinalists will be selected in October with the finalist announced in December.

This will be the first of three permanent public art pieces that will go in the library, according to the D.C. Public Library website.

Since March 2017, the library has been closed to the public in order to begin a $208 million rehabilitation that won’t complete until 2020. Once construction is complete, the new MLK Library, designed by Martinez + Johnson Architecture and Mecanoo, will feature 3D printers in a maker’s space as well as renovated reading rooms, public art, and outdoor seating spaces.

Expect a new auditorium and conference center, cafe, and a rooftop event space with a terrace. The children’s area will also be larger and more interactive. Outside, there will be public art and outdoor seating spaces for a new cafe.

For renderings of what the new library will look like, head to this Curbed DC article.

Open Call: Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial (Central) Library Grand Reading Room [East City Art]

Library Seeks Artists for Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library’s New Grand Reading Room [D.C. Public Library]

RFQ for Public Art: Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial (Central) Library Grand Reading Room Ceiling [Submittable]

MLK Library’s construction to begin [Curbed DC]

Dr Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Library

901 G St NW, Washington, D.C. 20001 (202) 727-0321 Visit Website