#MyArtTravels DC Visit - Add the National Archives Museum to the TOP of your list
've been to DC a number of times, and have visited a good number of the museums in town as well. However, on a recent weekend trip to the nation's capital on a rainy Friday I made my way to the National Archives & Records Administration Museum for the very first time.
The entrance is street level and not up the main staircase facing Constitution Ave. Entrance of course is free and you'll be required to enter through a security check. Unfortunately no photography is allowed anywhere inside the museum.
Once through the security checkpoint you naturally focus straight ahead towards a room showcasing the Magna Carta. This is the 4th version of the Magna Carta, though no less important than the 1st. This document is from 1297 AD and pre-dates the the birth of our great country by nearly 480 years, though it understandably played an important role in forming the United States that many years later.
This 1st room, headlined by the Magna Carta on display at the entrance, includes some important points in American history. Take your time around this room. The issues and events addressed still hit home today.
Make your way either upstairs or up the elevator to the next level. On 2nd thought, take the elevator. On the inside of the elevator door is a brilliant etched version of the Declaration of Independence. On this level you'll find arguably the most important documents in the history of country: The Declaration of Independence; The Constitution of the United States; and The Bill of Rights. The Rotunda feeds a line of guests under the dome to view these documents. On the day I visited there was a large school field trip also touring the museum.
Down the right and left sides you'll find the stories that lead to the making of both the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. Directly towards the center rear of the space are the four pages of the Constitution. These stories on display are truly fascinating.
All three documents are simply amazing to see right in front of you. You can even make out the verbiage on them as well as some of the original signatures.
In an adjacent room to the rotunda you will find an array of archived documents from throughout American history. Of note to me was a book listing Fredrick Douglas, the abolitionist, on line 26 of a register. That's true history if I saw it.
While you usually hear about the Smithsonian museums and the typical memorials around town (Lincoln, Washington, Jefferson, WWII, etc), you don't often hear about the National Archives Museum. I think this should be at, or near, the top of the list for any American visiting the nation's capital. To see THE documents which lead to the creation of our country, one that gave my parents (and so many others) a chance to build new lives as immigrants, is a neat experience.
On your next visit to DC, make sure to set aside a couple hours to check out the National Archives. You'll be thankful you did.
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