The United States has a complex history filled with civil wars, conflicts, and equality struggles. It is right to say that these conflicts and struggles gave birth to the liberal nation that exists today. Moreover, the nation underwent a change that led to its molding into the world’s oldest democracy that upheld the notions of individual’s rights and liberty as enshrined in the constitution. It has become a prime example and inspiration for the establishment of democratic nations all over the world.
This collective history is all laid down in written pamphlets and a plethora of other documents. These are founding documents of the United States, written by the eminent personalities and great visionaries who foresaw the nation as one based on constitutional principles. Most of these documents as well as numerous rare ones sourced from abroad are currently housed in the National Archives in Washington, a repository of such treasured documents.
Located on the National Archives & Records Administration Building and Museum, this storehouse of information is located just north of the National Mall. More than three billion valuable records are housed in the National Archives, right from the founding documents to more recent ones that have shaped the history of America. In fact, the National Archives holds three of the most important document in American history such as the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.
A Brief History
Most of the valuable documents related to the nation’s founding were scattered across numerous government agencies across the country. This resulted in many vital documents to be lost, which led to a demand for building a proper place for storing them. It was only in 1926 that the Congress heeded to this proposal and established a commission to review the proposed building designs. The commission selected the classical revival style edifice designed by the architect John Russell Pope.
In 1933, the then President Herbert Hoover laid the cornerstone and started the construction of the building. The construction required special considerations such as driving down more than 8500 piles since the location featured an underground stream. The building used mostly granite that served as the base and limestone for the rest of the structure. The work took about two years, as it was during the Great Depression, and was finally opened to the public in 1935.
The National Archives has placed its huge wealth of documents in separate permanent galleries. This makes it easier for the visitors to discover everything related to a particular section. Several DC private tour guides operate regular tours inside the National Archives building that lets the visitor experience the museum fully and under expert supervision. Besides, the National Archives gallery offers a more lively and interactive experience to the user in the form of video displays, computers, and listening kiosks.
Public Vaults – The Public Vaults holds the innumerable collections of the National Archives. About 1000 documents are put on display at a time for visitors in DC private tour or normal entry. Besides, these vaults are based on themes from the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution. Most of the exhibits are interactive meaning the visitors can get more information from them.
David M. Rubenstein and Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery – The Magna Carta, an important charter that formed the basis of English Law is located in the David M. Rubenstein Gallery along with the Record of Rights exhibit. Another prominent gallery space inside the National Archives museum is the Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery. It has several exhibits in the form of documents that details the amendment of the constitution.
Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom – It is one popular area inside the museum building. This semicircular room resembles a cathedral and features some prominent documents on display such as the Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence, and the U.S. Constitution. It includes numerous other documents too that had profound value.
William G. McGowan Theater – The National Archives building also features an exhibition space, the William G. McGowan Theater with 290 seating capacity. It occasionally shows prominent documentary films and is the main venue for forum discussions.
Entering the National Gallery
The National Archives museum is located on Constitution Avenue NW amidst the 7th and 9th streets, north of the National Mall. The main Rotunda entrance is located on Constitution Avenue, whereas the research entrance can be accessed from the Pennsylvania Avenue. Entrance to the National Archives building is free and open to the visitors from 10:00 am to 05:30 pm.
The months of March, April, and May are the busiest times to visit the museum, and it will be very much crowded on Thanksgiving and the days between Christmas and New Year. There is an option for making reservations, which will help to skip the long queues that form at the entrance. Relying on a DC private tour guide is also preferred, as it will help to get around the museum quickly and experience it to the fullest.