The National Archives has significantly expanded its public exhibitions, opening a new gallery and visitor orientation center, thanks to a $13.5-million gift from philanthropist David M. Rubenstein, who made news late last month for his $14.2-million purchase of the Bay Psalm Book
at auction. The gallery will feature a new permanent exhibit, Records of Rights
, showcasing original documents, photographs, videos, and multimedia material to explore ideas of freedom, citizenship, and civil rights. Among the items on view are the original discharge papers of a slave who fought in the Revolutionary War, women's "repatriation oaths," and a 1860 census of Irish and Canadian workers who faced workplace discrimination. The exhibit will also include an original 1297 Magna Carta, a foundational document for the concept of freedom under law, on permanent loan from Rubenstein. The David M. Rubenstein Gallery and Visitor Orientation Plaza
adds more than 7,000 square feet of public space to the National Archives and provides fresh context for the Charters of Freedom on view in the renovated Rotunda.
In a press release issued by the National Archives, Rubenstein commented, "As Americans, we embrace the rights and freedoms guaranteed by our founding documents, while striving to ensure that these rights apply to all and are meaningful in the present. I'm honored that this new gallery will help the National Archives showcase its incredible collection of records that tell the story of who we are as a people, where we've been, and where we are going."