The federal government is opening its vast store room of precious art and artifacts from the Civil War beginning Monday at the Library of Congress and on Friday, at the Smithsonian’s American Art Museum. The shows are free to the public and each has an accompanying series of lectures and tours.

The Library’s “The Civil War in America” is exhibiting more than 200 unique items, some that have never been seen by the public. The show, which closes June 1, 2013, includes original documents from the era interwoven with personal and eyewitness accounts of events. Among the rare items on display are pages from a diary kept by a Georgia teenager, LeRoy Wiley Gresham, who chronicled the war as he saw from his rooftop. Washington Post reporter Michael Ruane wrote about this part of the exhibitl in this paper’s Sunday edition.

The Library is offering a series of free noontime gallery tours on Wednesdays, beginning Nov. 14.

The Smithsonian show, “The Civil War and American Art,” opens on Nov. 16 with 75 works of art — 57 paintings and 18 vintage photographs — that were chosen, ‘for their aesthetic power in conveying the intense emotions of the period,” according to a press release. A series of free programs including symposiums, performances and films will accompany the show that closes April 23, 2013.