Press/Journalists

National Archives Receives Major Grant to Restore Rotunda Murals
Press Release · Tuesday, August 1, 2000

College Park, MD

Archivist of the United States John W. Carlin announced that the National Archives and Records Administration has received a $500,000 grant from the Save America's Treasures Historic Preservation Fund through the National Park Service. The money is designated for the preservation of the "Charter Murals" that are on the circular walls above the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the Bill of Rights in the Rotunda of the National Archives Building in Washington, DC. The award is administered by the National Endowment for the Arts

Mr. Carlin said, "I am delighted with the news of the generous grant. This award will go a long way in helping to save these important artworks. When the Rotunda renovation is complete, these newly restored murals will once again welcome millions of visitors and help to educate and inspire Americans about the Charters of Freedom."

The two Charter Murals, painted by artist Barry Faulkner in 1936, depict the Declaration of Independence presented to John Hancock, president of the Continental Congress and the final draft of the U.S. Constitution presented by James Madison to George Washington.

Over time, these canvas paintings, measuring approximately 35 feet in length, have separated from the Rotunda walls that support them. Moisture from humid air has migrated through the walls and plaster, causing the plaster to deteriorate. Conservation experts estimate that 30 percent of the mural surfaces have separated from the walls. The grant will support the three phases of the restoration process: the extremely delicate and lengthy process of taking the canvases off of the circular walls; the examination, restoration, and cleaning of the murals; and the re-hanging of the murals in the newly renovated National Archives Rotunda.

The total cost of the multiyear Charters Murals project is estimated to be $3.6 million. This initiative is part of the larger project to renovate the National Archives Building, making the Charters of Freedom more accessible to all Americans. For more information on the renovation, visit the National Archives web site: www.archives.gov/exhibit-hall/charters_of_freedom/charters_of_freedom.html

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For press information contact the National Archives Public and Media Communications Staff at 202-357-5300.

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