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Exhibition: The Words of Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson's thoughts literally come to light in this high-tech display that is as much a work of art as a vehicle for providing information.

Inlaid into the bluestone floor of the Stacy Smith Liss Gallery are words—America, The Arts, Conduct, Education, Government, Knowledge, Liberty, Monticello, Progress, Reason, Religion, Rights, Science, Slavery, and Thomas Jefferson—that capture the broad scope of Jefferson's ideas. When a visitor steps on one of the words, key phrases from a quotation related to that word are projected in light at his or her feet. Then, phrase by phrase, the full quotation moves across the floor and is projected on a wall.

Approximately 200 quotations by and about Jefferson appear in The Words of Thomas Jefferson. The words are displayed exactly as Jefferson wrote them, complete with his idiosyncratic spelling and punctuation, as transcribed by the editors of The Papers of Thomas Jefferson: Retirement Series.

The Thomas Jefferson Foundation has published a companion book containing these quotations, available at the Shop at Monticello and online.

The digital technology of The Words of Thomas Jefferson was developed specifically for the exhibition by the Small Design Firm of Cambridge, Mass.

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