Foundation for the National Archives Receives $13.5 million Gift from Philanthropist David M. Rubenstein

Jun 14, 2011, 13:39 ET from Foundation for the National Archives

Gift to Enhance and Expand Museum Experience, including New Permanent Exhibition Gallery, at the National Archives

WASHINGTON, June 14, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Foundation for the National Archives has received a $13.5 million gift from philanthropist David M. Rubenstein to enhance and expand the museum offerings at the National Archives. This gift, the largest single contribution ever received by the Foundation for the National Archives, will help create a new permanent exhibition gallery as well as a visitor orientation plaza at the Archives' flagship building in Washington, DC.

In announcing the gift David Rubenstein said, "I am honored to assist the National Archives as it works to remind Americans -- and all visitors -- of the sacred freedoms we are privileged to have in this country."

"We are extremely grateful to David Rubenstein for this wonderful gift and for his longtime support of the National Archives and our Foundation," said Foundation Chairman and President Ken Lore. "His generosity will enable the Foundation to build upon its already strong public-private partnership with the National Archives. This gift is critical in offering visitors the opportunity to explore the story of America through the records that tell of the ongoing struggles and triumphs in perfecting our democracy."

Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero said, "David Rubenstein is a true patriot.  He understood the significance and relevance of the Magna Carta to our nation's history and ensured that Americans would have an opportunity to view the document by purchasing it and placing it on permanent loan at the National Archives.  Through his continued generosity, citizens will soon be able to view this milestone document in the context of the evolving story of American's struggle for freedom.  We are extremely grateful to David for his foresight and generous gift in order to make this possible."

Rubenstein's gift, along with additional funds raised by the Foundation and from Congressional appropriations, will be used to expand the visitor and researcher experience at the National Archives Experience at the National Archives Building in downtown Washington, DC. The current configuration of the exhibition and public program areas draws more than 1 million people a year to the Archives.  It includes the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom, the award-winning permanent exhibition "The Public Vaults," the Lawrence F. O'Brien temporary exhibition gallery – currently showing "What's Cooking, Uncle Sam? The Government's Effect on the American Diet" -- the William G. McGowan Theater, and the Boeing Learning Center.

The new spaces, slated for completion in 2013, will include an expanded exhibition hall, to be named the David M. Rubenstein Gallery, that will showcase original documents that chronicle the expansion of rights across the centuries.  The exhibition will add context to the nation's founding documents – the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States, and the Bill of Rights. The opening feature of the new gallery will be the 1297 Magna Carta, on loan from David Rubenstein.  This charter contains the roots of the concept of freedom under law envisioned by the founding fathers. It will be the start of  the journey of  exploring America's continual efforts to perfect liberty and democracy, incorporating not only stories from our founding era but those of many individuals, African Americans, women, and immigrants, whose struggle for rights in subsequent decades is documented in records held by the National Archives.

About Magna Carta

Rubenstein's copy of the 1297 Magna Carta is the only copy of the landmark British document on permanent display in the United States. Rubenstein purchased the document at auction in 2007 and offered it on a permanent loan to the National Archives.

As the foundation of English law, Magna Carta, "The Great Charter," established that no one – not even the king – is above the law. It inspired America's Founding Fathers to articulate individual rights and liberties when they wrote the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. But while Magna Carta is a charter of ancient liberties "given and granted" by a king to his subjects, the U.S. Constitution established a government by the people.

The new exhibit will tie the freedoms of Magna Carta and the U.S. Charters of Freedom to our subsequent national history, putting the documents in context.  Rubenstein also is funding a state-of-the-art re-encasement of Magna Carta to preserve it for future generations. A new display case will incorporate a digital display allowing visitors to read the document in English, translated from the original Latin.

A New Visitor Orientation Plaza

In addition to the Rubenstein Gallery the gift will help support the development of a new visitor orientation plaza that will introduce people from around the world to the rich resources of the National Archives and an expanded retail/research space that will encourage visitors to continue their experience by conducting their own research at the National Archives or by accessing web-based resources from their own homes and schools.  The plaza will improve wayfinding in the building and enhance the understanding of options available during a visit, especially for visitors travelling in large groups.

About the Foundation for the National Archives

The Foundation for the National Archives is an independent nonprofit that serves as the National Archives' private-sector partner in the creation and ongoing support of the National Archives Experience, which includes permanent exhibits, public programs, traveling exhibits, special events and film screenings, educational initiatives, and historical/records-related products and media. The Foundation helps the public understand the importance of the holdings of the National Archives by presenting the depth and diversity of the records through award-winning, interactive educational exhibits and programs. It generates financial and creative support for the National Archives Experience from individuals, foundations, and corporations who share a belief in the importance of innovative civics education.

About the National Archives Experience

The National Archives Experience, created by the National Archives in partnership with the Foundation for the National Archives, has transformed the visitor experience at the National Archives' Washington, DC building, and includes a renovated Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom, the award-winning Public Vaults permanent interactive exhibition, the William G. McGowan Theater, the Lawrence F. O'Brien Gallery for special exhibits, the Boeing Learning Center, the Digital Vaults online exhibit, and DocsTeach, a web-based educational resource. These components make the rich resources of the National Archives accessible to Americans nationwide.

About David M. Rubenstein

A native of Baltimore, Rubenstein is co-founder and managing director of The Carlyle Group, one of the world's largest private equity firms. In addition to his loan of Magna Carta to the National Archives, he has lent a signed copy of the Emancipation Proclamation to the Oval Office, a rare copy of the Declaration of Independence to the State Department, and the first official map of the United States published after the Revolution to the Library of Congress.

A magna cum laude graduate of Duke, Rubenstein graduated in 1973 from The University of Chicago Law School, where he was an editor of the Law Review. After practicing law in New York, he served from 1975-76 as Chief Counsel to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Constitutional Amendments. From 1977-81, during the Carter Administration, Rubenstein was Deputy Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy. After his White House service, he practiced law at a private firm in Washington, and then co-founded The Carlyle Group in 1987.

In addition to his work with the National Archives, Rubenstein is chairman of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, a regent of the Smithsonian Institution and on the board of Directors or Trustees of Duke University, Johns Hopkins University, University of Chicago, the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Johns Hopkins Medicine, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Institute for Advanced Study, the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the American Academy in Berlin, and Ford's Theater.

SOURCE Foundation for the National Archives