March 3, 2003
National Archives Unveils Completed Renovation of the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom During Constitution Week, September 15-19, 2003
Re-Dedication of Rotunda and Unveiling of Newly Encased Charters of Freedom Highlight Two Weeks of Special Activities and Programs at the National Archives in Washington, DC
WASHINGTON, DC - The National Archives and Records Administration unveils the first phase of its major renovation project on September 17, 2003 with the Re-Dedication of the Rotunda and unveiling of the newly encased Charters of Freedom. For the first time, millions of visitors will be able to view all four pages of the U.S. Constitution, as well as the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. New cases will make the Charters even more accessible. A multi-lingual audio tour will offer an enriched experience to all visitors, especially children and international visitors.
The renovation of the Rotunda and the newly encased Charters of Freedom are the first steps in a new initiative, known as The National Archives Experience, that will highlight the records of the American experience. When the Rotunda was closed on July 5, 2001, and the Charters of Freedom removed, Archivist of the United States John Carlin promised the nation that our founding documents would be returned to public view with all possible haste. The ceremonies on September 17 and 18 mark the return of these documents.
A preliminary schedule of activities for the Re-Dedication includes:
- September 7 - Replicas of the Charters of Freedom begin their symbolic journey on horseback from Philadelphia to Washington, DC.
- September 16 - The Charters arrive at the National Archives in Washington, DC and are presented to Archivist of the United States John Carlin. Public ceremony on the steps of the National Archives.
- September 17 - Special Ceremony to re-dedicate the National Archives Rotunda and unveil the newly encased Charters. By invitation only.
- September 18 - National Archives Rotunda opens to the public. Extended hours, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.
- September 20-21 - Special programs and activities for families throughout the weekend, including programs developed in coordination with the annual Washington, DC Arts On Foot Festival.
- September 22-26 - Education Week at the National Archives with special tours and activities for school groups.
All programs listed above are free and open to the public, except where noted.
The National Archives Experience was created by the National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC, and the Foundation for the National Archives to bring records to life and educate Americans about the importance of applying the lessons of those documents and archival materials to our daily lives and our future. The National Archives Experience will allow visitors, both in person and online, to discover and share in the spirit embodied in documents as diverse as the Emancipation Proclamation, Edison's patent application for the light bulb, census data, and recordings of Franklin Roosevelt's Fireside Chats.
The National Archives Experience will continue to unveil new components through 2004, including:
- a major permanent exhibition entitled "The Public Vaults"
- a Special Exhibition Gallery devoted to changing document-based exhibits on specific aspects of U.S. history
- a Learning Center offering educational activities and facilities for school groups, families and teachers
- a new 275-seat Theater for lectures and special programs, including a regularly scheduled film illustrating the relationship of records and democracy through the lives of real people
Media Notes: For more information about the National Archives Experience and Constitution Week activities, or to interview an National Archives spokesperson, contact the National Archives Public Affairs staff at 301-837-1700.