Press/Journalists

Media Alert
Attn: Science, Tech and Culture Editors
January 25, 2012

Exclusive Press Preview of Newly Re-encased 1297 Magna Carta at the National Archives

Contact Information

WHAT:  Special behind-the-scenes press opportunity. Learn about the 1297 Magna Carta conservation and re-encasement project and photograph/videotape Magna Carta in its new state-of-the-art encasement before it returns to public display in the National Archives Rotunda Gallery. This will be the ONLY opportunity to see Magna Carta before it is placed on exhibit in its new display case and to hear about the conservation and encasement process from the experts.

Following the preview in the Conservation Lab, the media will be given a special tour of the new interactive display. Using exciting multi-touch technology and high resolution images, visitors can explore the document in minute detail, learn how it was made, and read an annotated translation of the document (Magna Carta is written in Latin). The interactive display highlights elements that influenced the United States’ founding charters: the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.

WHO: Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero
Carlyle Group Co-Founder and owner of Magna Carta David M. Rubenstein
National Archives Conservation Lab Deputy Director Kitty Nicholson
National Institute of Standards and Technology Project Engineer Jay Brandenburg

WHEN: Thursday, February 2, 2012, 10 A.M.
Electronic media pre-set begins at 9:45 A.M.

WHERE:  Conservation Lab, National Archives Building, Washington, DC
Enter through 700 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, between 7th and 9th Streets

Please Note That The Use of Additional Lights Will Not Be Permitted

RSVPs to public.affairs@nara.gov requested.

Background

The only original Magna Carta permanently in the United States was taken off display in 2011 to undergo conservation treatment and to be re-encased. National Archives conservators examined and stabilized the parchment before placing it in a new state-of-the-art encasement. This new enclosure, designed and fabricated by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), is based on an original design used to protect the Charters of Freedom, which were re-encased in 2003.  The new exhibition will open to the public on February 17, 2012.

Only four originals of the 1297 Magna Carta remain. By the 17th century, the one displayed at the National Archives was in the possession of the Brudenell family, the earls of Cardigan. It was acquired by the Perot Foundation in 1984 and purchased by David M. Rubenstein in 2007. Mr. Rubenstein loaned Magna Carta to the National Archives as a gift to the American people.

In 1215 on the plains of Runnymede an assembly of barons confronted the despotic King John of England and demanded that traditional rights be recognized, written down, confirmed with the royal seal, and sent to each of the counties to be read to all freemen. King John agreed, binding himself and his heirs to grant "to all freemen of our kingdom" the rights and liberties described in the great charter, or Magna Carta.

Between 1215 and 1297, Magna Carta was reissued by each of King John’s successors. To meet his debts from foreign wars, King Edward I imposed new and harsher taxes in 1297. This provoked another confrontation between the king and the barons, resulting not only in the reissue of Magna Carta, but for the first time its entry into the official Statute Rolls of England. The 1297 document represents the transition of Magna Carta from a brokered agreement to the foundation of English law.

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