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Mr. Ritchie said the Library of Congress requested that a section on knowledge be included, and he said even though the library isn’t mentioned in the Constitution, more than 200 years of operation have shown it is fundamental to Congress‘ operation.

At a press conference called in November to preview the opening Stephen Ayers, acting architect of the Capitol, called the CVC “a treasure in itself.”

The entrance to the new center will be on the east front of the Capitol, in between the grand building and the Supreme Court and Library of Congress, both of which are on the other side of First Street.

Ground was broken in 2000 and hallways on the east side of the Capitol were shut down in 2003 to accommodate construction. A key goal was to push the security check for visitors further away from the entrance to the actual Capitol.

Part of the new arrangement is that visitors can make reservations for a visit ahead of time. And in the exhibition center they can see tools used in construction of the original Capitol and documents from the early days of the government.