1297 Magna Carta On Loan to National Archives to be Re-encased

On June 30, Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero announced that the only original Magna Carta on display in the United States will have a new $322,800 state-of-the-art encasement and will be featured in a new exhibition gallery at the National Archives Building in Washington, DC. The 1297 Magna Carta is on loan to the National Archives from David Rubenstein, Co-Founder of the Carlyle Group as a gift to the American people.

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. The Magna Carta which is written in Latin on parchment is on display in the National Archives West Rotunda Gallery, was encased more than 25 years ago by Dr. Nathan Stolow.

New research and technological advancements based on the 2001 re-encasement of the Charters of Freedom (the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights) by the National Archives and the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have led to improvements in design of encasements to ensure the preservation of historic documents on extended display.

National Archives experts will apply their knowledge and understanding gained in encasing the Charters of Freedom and to apply the latest advances in very long-term seal technology. These measures will ensure that the Magna Carta is displayed in an environment that greatly reduces oxidative degradation reactions and maintains constant moisture content in the parchment. This will also ensure dimensional stability. The new encasement is expected to provide an optimal environment for many years. The encasement design will represent a collaboration between the National Archives Conservation and Exhibition staff and NIST Fabrication Technology staff.

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