God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth be moved… —Psalm 46:1–2
After nearly three months of earthquake-related closure, the Cathedral reopened to the public following the November 12 consecration of Mariann Edgar Budde as ninth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington. Visitors were met with an enhanced, more gracious welcome through the reopened doors—including a new exhibit on earthquake damage.
“Though the Earth Be Moved,” in the Rare Book Library Exhibit Room, located at the southwest corner of the main level, places ongoing restoration work in context, helping visitors off all ages understand the powerful effects of the August 23 tremor. The exhibit features actual pieces of stonework carefully removed by Cathedral masons during the stabilization efforts. These pieces are often much larger and more delicately carved than can be appreciated from the ground, as in the case of the nearly decapitated gargoyle whose head was pictured hanging from its internal drainpipe in the last issue of Cathedral Age. One of the walls of the exhibit room visibly shifted during the earthquake, and the exhibit draws attention to this as well. Colorful diagrams explain basics of seismology (the study of earthquakes) and how the components of a Gothic cathedral react to stress. A video slideshow shares updated images of the damage while explaining the path toward repair and full restoration.
The new exhibit offers an important and timely supplement to the Cathedral’s popular ongoing exhibit featuring the leaders, fundraisers, builders, and artisans who created the National Cathedral. It replaces the welcome center, which has been moved to the northwest cloister: the revised location allows for convenient access to restrooms and features increased staff presence to orient visitors for tours, individual exploration, worship, or prayer.