Results 1-7of 7 Reviews
September 17, 2009
From journal Our Nation's Capital
May 28, 2007
From journal Business Trip to Washington D.C.
by Traveling Jen
East Bridgewater, Massachusetts
March 15, 2007
You just can't go to D.C. without getting a glimpse of the Declaration of Independence. Of course, you can hardly read any of it. But, just the thought of all the great men in this country’s history that signed it... unbelievable. The Rotunda (called: The Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom) is magnificent (as it would have to be, to be worthy of housing the amazing documents that it holds). The Rotunda/Exhibition hall holds the original copies of the 3 most historical documents in US history: The Declaration of Independence, The Bill of Rights, and the Constitution.
Also on display is a copy of the 1297 issue of Magna Carta. I found it to be amazing that this document could survive over 700 years… and legible (if you can read Latin… I can’t). The National Archives Building also exhibits other important American historical documents such as the Louisiana Purchase and the Emancipation Proclamation, as well as various collections of photos and other historically significant American artifacts. Admission is Free.
Spring and summer hours are 10am – 7pm, fall and winter hours are 10am – 5:30pm. Tip: Make sure you bring a camera that has the option to shut off the flash… there is no flash photography allowed in the Exhibit Hall. The National Archives building’s address is on Pennsylvania Avenue, however, the Rotunda entrance, which includes the Exhibit Hall is on Constitution Avenue (across from the National Mall). It is located between 7th and 9th Streets.Several D.C. buses stop at the National Archives, and you can take the sub-way’s yellow or green lines to the Archives/Navy Memorial stop.The National Archives: 700 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
From journal Weekend in Washington DC
January 20, 2006
From journal Non-Smithsonian Museums Around DC
by Taylor Shelby
Charleston, South Carolina
December 6, 2005
I hadn’t actually planned on seeing the National Archives until Elizabeth yelled, “THEY HAVE THE MAGNA CARTA!!” My response: “Off we go!”
The National Archives is where all of our important documents live. Things like the Declaration of Independence, The US Constitution, and the Bill of Rights are on view for you to see. But that isn’t the only thing worth seeing. They also have an excellent museum space that is fascinating, extremely well done, and forgotten by most visitors to Washington. Oh yeah, and they have the Magna Carta. The Magna Carta is an English document that dates back all the way to 1215, when it was signed. This is what first limited the power of the English king and is believed to be the first step on the road to Constitutional Law, meaning if the Magna Carta had never been signed, none of those other things they show off at the Archives would have existed. Anywho, I digress.
The National Archives are open for public tours daily (except Christmas Day), and you should expect a bit of a wait. It took us about 15 minutes to get through security (and it was the toughest security of anywhere I saw in DC), and then we had to wait another 30 minutes to be able to go into The Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom, where they keep all the American Documents. You need to be really careful when you go in here. Pictures are allowed in the Rotunda, but you absolutely cannot use a flash. If you want to try and see if your flash is turned off, do it outside in the hall. If your flash goes off, even as you are trying to disable it, you won’t be able to use the camera anymore. And they are not messing around. Those people in there will tear you to pieces if they see a flash!
There is a lot more to the national archives than just the “charters of freedom.” They also have a large museum space called the Public Vaults, and there is a lot of wonderful stuff in there. One thing that was excellent about it is the amount of hands-on activities. You can create your own seal, make a movie about D-Day, and learn about conservation of old documents. They also had some neat artifacts, like old hand-stitched samplers from the late 1700s, citizenship papers for Albert Einstein, and old CIA and FBI records you can peruse through.
Most people left the rotunda and walked straight out of the archives, but I really encourage you to look around. It was one of the best museums I have even been in, and they did an excellent job with the display and content. Make sure to also check out the wonderful museum shop they have. It was one of the best bookstores in DC, and they had a lot of unusual stuff.
From journal Four exhausted girls spend a weekend in DC
June 30, 2005
We choose to go directly to the document room. You will be surprised at the low light level. It is kept so for the sake of the documents. The documents are in a large semicircle with other documents that lead up to and expanded upon the Declaration and Constitution. It's really a thrill to be able to get "nose to nose" with the Declaration and the Consitution. The Declaration is protected by special glass and illumination. It is a challenge to read, as the ink is quite faded. All four pages of the Consitution are displayed for the first time ever, with the same glass and illumination.
If you ask a guard how the Charters are protected, he will tell you that after 9/11, that information is secret. Formerly, the Charters were known to have a 50-ton vault deep underground they could be lowered into in case of an emergency (nuclear strike) with the touch of a button. Fans of National Treasure will note that the real thing is quite different from the movie. That was a set that resembled the former display area, not the current one. I was amused by the fact that the DVD of National Treasure was for sale in the souvenir shop.
From journal An Eight-Day Vacation in Washington, D.C.
October 25, 2004
The major draw of the National Archives is the aforementioned Declaration, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. All three are on display in the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom in a brand new, high-tech display case. The new glass cases took over 5 years to design and contains argon, which does not react with the centuries-old parchment. An excellent 18-minute video explains the significance of the documents, how they were originally handled through the Revolution (hung in direct sunlight! gasp!), and the preservation techniques currently in place. Until the new cases were built, the national treasures were removed each night into bunkers built to withstand an earthquake or nuclear blast. How’s that for preservation!
Having recently been to Philadelphia and having visited Constitution Hall, the birthplace of the Declaration, I was very excited to see them in person. I was shocked to see the condition of this treasures-no fault of the archives, but the writing so clear in 1776 has faded almost beyond recognition now. It pained me to think my grandchildren may see nothing but blank parchment (if not for the trusty argon-infused cases!)
When you enter the Rotunda, there are more documents on display than just the
Declaration, Constitution, and Bill of Rights. Preceding the Charters of Freedom are several documents that influenced their creation. Following are several documents that used them for interpretation, such as amendments, speeches by Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr., and more.
The National Archives has just undergone an extensive remodeling, so several new exhibits were not yet open on our visit. The Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery will house an exhibit of candid photographs of our nation’s presidents. The Public Vaults will contain many original documents, pictures, photographs, and drawings crucial to the development of our country, scheduled to open November 12, 2004. Finally, the McGowan Theater plays the Preserving the Charters of Freedom film every 30 minutes, but also has many special presentations open to the public.
If you are planning a visit to the National Archives, check out their excellent website ahead of time for special events, exhibits, presentations, and to gather some background information before you go. Their website really is outstanding and can only add to the experience. The archives also has a research center-check the website for more info.
Hours:10am to 5:30pm everyday except Dec. 25 (Café closed Sundays)
Cost: See these priceless treasures for FREE! Metro: Archives-Navy Memorial (7th and Constitution, one block off the north side of the Mall) Web:www.archives.gov
From journal Crash Course in History in Washington DC