Press Release
Press Release · Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Susan Cooper or Laura Diachenko,
National Archives
Jennifer Devlin,
Susan Davis International

First Opportunity for Press to View Newly Encased Charters of Freedom And See Renovated Rotunda at the National Archives

WHAT: This is the first opportunity for the press to view the newly encased Charters of Freedom-the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the Bill of Rights and see the renovated Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom. Tours of the new Archives spaces will be conducted. Experts who worked on these projects will be available for interviews. Learn about a new national initiative and about the National Archives Experience.

WHO: The Archivist of the United States John W. Carlin and President of the Foundation for the National Archives Thomas E. Wheeler will make remarks.
The following National Archives experts will be available for interviews:
Charters of Freedom Conservators: Mary Lynn Ritzenthaler & Catherine Nicholson
Director of the National Archives Experience Marvin Pinkert
Curator of "A New World Is At Hand" Stacey Bredhoff
Other key members of the renovation and reencasement team.

WHERE: The Briefing will begin in the new Special Exhibition Gallery, followed by tours of the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom. Please use the Pennsylvania Avenue entrance.

National Archives Building
Pennsylvania Avenue, between 7th and 9th Streets, NW

WHEN: 10 AM-Noon, Tuesday, September 16, 2003.


BACKGROUND: When the National Archives in Washington, DC, reopens its Rotunda on September 18, 2003, it will unveil not only the newly encased Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights, but the start of a whole new National Archives Experience for the education and inspiration of the American public. The National Archives, with the help of the Foundation for the National Archives, is creating a dramatic and powerful project to motivate people to care more deeply about democracy, learn about their individual stories, and make use of the patriotic spirit that lives on because of records.

Using exciting interactive components, the National Archives Experience will ensure that each visitor will take from it an understanding of his or her own personal and profound connection to the records in the National Archives. The National Archives Experience will accomplish this through six integrated components:

  • Charters of Freedom - the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights in the National Archives Rotunda are the centerpiece of the National Archives Experience. For the first time, all four pages of the Constitution will be displayed and new cases will make the Charters more accessible for younger visitors and those using wheelchairs. In addition, a multi-language audio tool will give all visitors a more meaningful experience.
  • Public Vaults - the new permanent exhibition, creates the feeling of going into the stacks and vaults of the National Archives. In the central corridor, the Record of America will explore the transformation of records through time and technology, from the earliest Native American treaties to Presidential Web sites. The interactive experiences of the vaults will draw their themes from the Preamble to the Constitution. Scheduled to open in 2004.
  • William G. McGowan Theater - featuring a dramatic film illustrating the relationship of records and democracy through the lives of real people. The William G. McGowan Theatre also will serve as the Capitol region's most important venue for documentary film, as well as a forum for the great issues of American government. Scheduled to open in 2004.
  • Special Exhibition Gallery - devoted to document-based exhibits on newsworthy and timely topics and traveling exhibits from Presidential Libraries and other sources. Exhibits that open in the Gallery will travel to other venues in the U.S. and abroad. Scheduled to open in 2005.
  • Learning Center - reaching America's youth, parents and teaching professionals. The Learning Center will leverage the Archives' resources to engage and inspire children to connect to our nation's exciting history. Scheduled to open in 2005.
  • Internet - for the millions of people worldwide who cannot visit the National Archives Building, and those who want to continue exploring the Archives' resources. The Web site will recreate much of the excitement of the National Archives Experience online.

For more information about the National Archives, visit


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