About the National Archives

Welcome Remarks for "Special 15th-Anniversary Screening of National Treasure"

McGowan Theater, National Archives Building, Washington, DC
November 21, 2019

Good evening, and welcome to the National Archives. I’m David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, and I’m pleased to welcome you to the William G. McGowan Theater for tonight’s special 15th-anniversary screening of National Treasure.

Before we get started, I’d like to tell you about two programs coming up in December here in the McGowan Theater.

On Thursday, December 12, at noon, historian Leandra Ruth Zarnow will be here to discuss and sign her book, Battling Bella: The Protest Politics of Bella Abzug.

Then, later that evening at 7 p.m., we will present a discussion in commemoration of Bill of Rights Day. Panelists will explore the unique history of the U.S. Bill of Rights and the ways in which it has influenced national constitutions around the world.

Check our website, Archives.gov, or sign up at the table outside the theater to get email updates. You’ll also find information about other National Archives programs and activities.

Another way to get more involved with the National Archives is to become a member of the National Archives Foundation. The Foundation supports the work of the agency, especially its education and outreach programs. Visit its website—archivesfoundation.org—to learn more about the Foundation and join online.

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Fifteen years ago, National Treasure’s November 2004 release put the National Archives on the map for those in the millennial generation. The museum’s annual attendance jumped 40 percent, largely due to visits by National Treasure fans wondering if there’s really a treasure map on the back of the Declaration.

Let me set you straight right away—there is no map. I can tell you for certain that the only thing on the back of the Declaration are the words “Original Declaration of Independence dated 4th July 1776.” That’s it.

But the discovery of a map is key to the movie’s plot, and fictional treasurer hunter Benjamin Franklin Gates, played by Nicolas Cage, must steal our cherished Declaration in order to keep if from the evil treasure hunter. Gates manages to sneak the rolled-up parchment out of the building by pretending it is a facsimile purchased in the shop—for thirty-five dollars. I have to point out that Gates was overcharged—today you can get your own facsimile of the Declaration of Independence for a much better price upstairs: just twelve dollars.

Our own, real, documentary national treasures are safely housed in this building and in National Archives facilities around the country. And we never, ever let lemon juice or a hair-dryer come near them.

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And now it’s my pleasure to introduce our special guest, Charles Segars. Mr. Segars is credited with developing the original story to National Treasure and was one of the film’s executive producers. The founder of Segars Media, Mr. Segars previously worked in a senior advisory role at DreamWorks Animation and served as advance lead of the Office of the President of the United States. He is currently CEO of Ovation TV and an active board member at Ford’s Theatre.

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Charles Segars.