News & Politics

Inspired by Today’s Google Doodle? You Can (Usually) See a Gutenberg Bible IRL in DC.

The Library of Congress has one of three perfect vellum copies of Johannes Gutenberg's great book.

The Gutenberg Bible in its new case. Photograph by Shawn Miller, via the Library of Congress Life Flickr page.

Wednesday’s Google Doodle honors Johannes Gutenberg, who introduced movable metal-type printing to Europe, thus beginning that continent’s era of mass communication.

And one of only three perfect vellum copies of his Bible is here in Washington.

The Library of Congress purchased its copy of the Gutenberg Bible, which was owned for five centuries by Benedictine monks, thanks to an act of Congress in 1930. In non-pandemic times, the Bible is usually on display in the Great Hall of the LOC’s Jefferson Building. (The Library of Congress is currently closed due to Covid concerns.) In 2018 the Library installed a new display case for the Bible that keeps the document at a safe temperature and humidity.

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Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute, TBD.com, and Washington City Paper. His book A Bigger Field Awaits Us: The Scottish Soccer Team That Fought the Great War was published in 2018. He lives in Del Ray.