Press/Journalists

Press Release
September 16, 2008

National Archives Welcomes Millionth Visitor in FY 2008

Millionth visitor Mary Jo Grippen is greeted by National Archives Experience staffer Katherine Chin.
Photo by Cathy Farmer for the National Archives

Washington, DC…The National Archives welcomed its millionth visitor for Fiscal Year 2008 on Tuesday, September 16, 2008. Visitor Mary Jo Grippen, from Littleton, Colorado, was warmly greeted by National Archives staff. Expressing surprise as the person reaching this milestone, Ms. Grippen excitedly exclaimed “I’m stunned. This is quite an honor for a history buff!” Mrs. Grippen is no stranger to the National Archives – she stops by to see the Charters of Freedom whenever she is in town. A few years ago she brought along an exchange student from Finland.

Large numbers of visitors come to the National Archives to see the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom, the Public Vaults exhibition, programs and films in the William G. McGowan Theater, and changing exhibits in the Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery. “Visitors come to the National Archives in large numbers to discover and learn from their past. Here they can glimpse that past through the documents dealing with the actual events and the people who have influenced the most pivotal moments in our nation's history," said Archivist Allen Weinstein.

The National Archives Experience is made possible by a public/private partnership between the National Archives and Records Administration and the Foundation for the National Archives, which is the private sector partner that support s the creation of these new exhibitions and educational programs and resources:

Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom

On permanent display are the Charters of Freedom - the original Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, praised by President George Bush as “the most cherished material possessions of a great and good nation.” The President encouraged “ fellow citizens [to] come to this rotunda and see firsthand the work of our founding fathers. ” Attendance figures show people have heeded his advice. “A New World is at Hand” exhibit surrounds the Charters and presents a selection of milestone documents that chronicle the creation of the Charters in the 18thcentury and their impact on the course of history in the United States and worldwide.

Public Vaults Exhibition

The Public Vaults exhibition brings visitors beyond the Rotunda and creates the feeling of entering the stacks and vaults of the National Archives. Containing over 1,100 records and 22 state-of-the-art interactive stations, the exhibition shows the raw materials from which history is made, while also relaying compelling personal stories of both our nation’s leaders and “ordinary” Americans.

William G. McGowan Theater

The elegant William G. McGowan Theater is a centerpiece of the National Archives Experience. By day the McGowan Theater continuously shows the 11-minute introductory film “Democracy Starts Here.” By night, this theater is rapidly becoming one of the nation’s leading centers for documentary film and a forum for programs that explore American history, democracy and government.

Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery

The Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery is a 3,000 square-foot gallery for special and traveling exhibitions at the National Archives. Exhibitions in the Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery explore newsworthy and timely themes, issues, events, and turning points in our nation’s history. “1783:  Subject or Citizen” opens on Friday, October 3, and runs through January 25, 2009. This exhibition marks the 225th anniversary of the Treaty of Paris that ended the American Revolution and resulted in the reshaping of modern North America.

The Archives Shop

Visitors have one last important stop to make before they leave – a special shop where they can purchase some treasures of their own. Archives Shop sales have far exceeded initial projections. By far, the most popular items are reproductions of the Charters of Freedom.

Information and Hours:

The National Archives Experience is free and open to the public. The National Archives building is located between 7th and 9th Streets, NW on Constitution Avenue. Metro stop:  Archives/Navy Memorial. See information on individual and group tours. Exhibit hours are 10 am to 5:30 pm through March 14 (closed Thanksgiving and December 25). See up-to-date information on events and programs.

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For press information, please contact the National Archives Public Affairs Staff at (202) 357-5300.

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