National Archives News

National Archives Celebrates 10th Anniversary of David M. Rubenstein Gallery

By Pete Lewis | National Archives News

WASHINGTON, February 14, 2024 - The National Archives and Records Administration celebrated the 10th anniversary of the opening of the David M. Rubenstein Gallery and its permanent Records of Rights exhibit February 12 at the National Archives in Washington, DC.   

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Panelists, (from left to right) Elisabeth Griffith, historian and author; Julieanna Richardson, founder and executive director of the HistoryMakers digital archive; Mark Updegrove, president and CEO of the LBJ Foundation; and Dr. Colleen Shogan, Archivist of the United States, participate in a discussion during an event honoring the 10 year anniversary of the Records of Rights exhibition at the National Archives, February 12, in the McGowan Theater. (National Archives photo by Susana Raab)

The David M. Rubenstein Gallery opened in December 2013 and was made possible by a $13.5 million gift from Rubenstein to the National Archives Foundation, the National Archives’ nonprofit partner. The gift allowed the museum to significantly expand its offerings with the Records of Rights exhibit, which provides context for the Charters of Freedom on view in the National Archives Rotunda. 

Dr. Colleen Shogan, Archivist of the United States, led a panel discussion on the evolution of rights in America and the significance and impact of the gallery at the National Archives. Panelists included Julieanna Richardson, founder and executive director of the HistoryMakers digital archive; Elisabeth Griffith, author and historian; and Mark Updegrove, president and CEO of the LBJ Foundation. 

Rubenstein made opening remarks, explaining the importance of preserving physical records and pieces. He noted that while digital records are extremely useful, people will naturally be more excited and curious about a physical piece of history.

“Digitization is important, for sure, but we also need to preserve the original documents. By preserving the original documents, we’re more likely to educate people and get them excited to see something. When school children come here [to the National Archives], and they see the Magna Carta or the Bill of Rights, they’re more likely to get excited about it and learn something,” he said. “I really want to thank the Archives for preserving these documents … and I’m pleased that people have the chance to come here and see the original documents, including the Declaration of Independence, the original Bill of Rights, and the Constitution.”

Shogan then led the panel in a discussion of the history and evolution of rights from the era before the founding of the United States to the present day in America. A question-and-answer session with the audience followed. View the event on the National Archives YouTube channel.

Records of Rights begins with an original copy of the 1297 Magna Carta, one of only four in existence, which is owned by Rubenstein and loaned to the National Archives Museum. The exhibit traces the evolution of rights in the United States from our country’s founding through the present day. It uses original documents, photographs, facsimiles, videos, and interactive exhibits to explore individual rights, pivotal federal legislation, and the compelling stories of citizens' struggles and triumphs in securing their rights.

This event was made possible in part by the National Archives Foundation.