New National Archives Video Short Documents 1297 Magna Carta Encasement Project
Press Release · Thursday, February 2, 2012

Magna Carta to Return to Public Display on February 17

Washington, DC…The National Archives is today releasing a short documentary video, “The Encasement of Magna Carta.” The video is part of the ongoing series Inside the Vaults, and can be viewed on the National Archives YouTube channel: The video shows the fascinating behind-the-scenes creation of the case which will display the 715-year-old document for the world’s viewing. The 1297 Magna Carta being encased is one of only four remaining 1297 originals. Magna Carta is said to have influenced early American settlers and been an inspiration for the Constitution of the United States.

Magna Carta is on loan to the National Archives from its owner, philanthropist and co-founder of the Carlyle Group, David M. Rubenstein. Mr. Rubenstein underwrote the conservation treatment of the document and the fabrication of its new encasement. The encasement was designed by the National Archives in cooperation with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) who fabricated the encasement.

Mark Luce, director of fabrication services at NIST, Jay Brandenburg, project engineer and Charles Tilford, a physicist now retired from NIST, explain how the encasement was fabricated and assembled. Project manager Catherine Nicholson and supervisory conservator Terry Boone, both of the National Archives, discuss the conservation treatment and mounting of Magna Carta inside the encasement.

The encasement was machined at NIST out of two solid blocks of aluminum and sits on a unique cart designed to support the document on exhibit. The encasement is air tight and filled with humidified argon, an inert gas that unlike oxygen will not degrade the document. Elaborate instruments continuously monitor conditions within the encasement for humidity and evidence of leaks.

This is the second short documentary produced by the National Archives about Magna Carta. The first, “The Conservation Treatment of Magna Carta” can be viewed at this link:

Background on “Inside the Vaults”

“Inside the Vaults” is part of the ongoing effort by the National Archives to make its collections, stories, and accomplishments more accessible to the public. “Inside the Vaults” gives voice to Archives staff and users, highlights new and exciting finds at the Archives, and reports on complicated and technical subjects in easily understandable presentations. Earlier topics include the conservation of the original Declaration of Independence, the new Grace Tully collection of documents at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Presidential Library, the transfer to the National Archives of the Nuremberg Laws, and the launch of a new National Archives user-friendly search engine. The film series is free to view and distribute on our YouTube channel at

Created by a former broadcast network news producer, the "Inside the Vaults" video shorts series presents “behind the scenes” exclusives and offer surprising glimpses of the National Archives treasures. These videos are in the public domain and not subject to any copyright restrictions. The National Archives encourages the free distribution of them.

# # #

For Press information, contact the National Archives Public Affairs staff at 202-357-5300.

Connect with Us on:
Facebook:  US National Archives


This page was last reviewed on January 7, 2013.
Contact us with questions or comments.