About the National Archives

Welcome Remarks for the Faulkner Murals: Revealing Their Stories

McGowan Theater, National Archives Building, Washington, DC
July 2, 2019 

Good afternoon, and welcome to the William G. McGowan Theater at the National Archives. I’m David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, and I’m pleased you could join us, whether you are in here in this room or participating through Facebook or YouTube.

But before we hear from Lester Gorelic about Barry Faulkner’s murals in the Rotunda, I’d like to let you know about two other programs coming up this week.

Tomorrow at noon, we will host a conversation between Thomas Jefferson and Abigail Adams, portrayed by Steven Edenbo and Kim Hanley. Expect a spirited discussion of their views on the events that surrounded the struggle for American Independence and the establishment of the United States under the Constitution.

And on Thursday, we will host our annual July 4th celebration on Constitution Avenue. Come early for the free T-shirt giveaway, between 8 a.m. and 9:30. Musical performers will start the celebration at 9 o’clock, and at 10 the Declaration of Independence Reading Ceremony will begin. The Continental Color Guard and Fife and Drums Corps of the U.S. Third Infantry will perform, and costumed reenactors will read the Declaration. Inside the building, we’ll have family activities until 4 o’clock.

Check our website, Archives.gov, for more information, 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. Check out their website—archivesfoundation.org—to learn more about them and join online.

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Lester Gorelic has been a volunteer at the National Archives here in Washington, DC, for many years. Our corps of volunteers do so much for us every day, and we are so grateful for their time, expertise, and willingness to pitch in.

As a docent, Lester has conducted many tours of the museum for our visitors, and the two murals in the Rotunda piqued his curiosity. His interest in the depictions of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution extended to the artist—Barry Faulkner—and the creative process that shaped the paintings.

After exhaustive research, Lester was able to uncover the story behind the murals and their composition, and we are pleased that he is here to share that with us today.

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Before he volunteered as a docent at the National Archives in Washington, DC, Lester Gorelic was a program director at the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health in Rockville, Maryland, and had been a productive independent investigator in the physical, biological and clinical sciences. His article on the Faulkner Murals—“Depicting the Creation of a Nation: The Story Behind the Murals About Our Founding Fathers,” appeared in Prologue magazine in 2014. He received his B.S. degree in chemistry from the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, and doctorate degree in chemistry from the University of Chicago.

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Lester Gorelic.