New Magna Carta showcase opens at National Archives

By Kyle Johnson,

A new museum display at the National Archives featuring as the centerpiece the only U.S. copy of the Magna Carta opened on Wednesday.

The Magna Carta is at the middle of a new display entitled "Records of Rights," which finally opened after a year of construction, Journal Star reports.

The Magna Carta was created in 1215 in England as a declaration of human rights aimed at the monarchy's authority. The document was later reissued in 1297 and only four copies from that event remain. There are 17 total original copies of the Magna Carta that survive, with all but two being in Britain.

The new exhibit is largely thanks to philanthropist David Rubenstein, The Washington Post reports. He donated $13.5 million so the National Archives could build the new exhibit and paid $21.7 million in 2007 for the document at auction, which he has since loaned to the museum.

"It was the inspiration for the drafters of the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and the Constitution," Rubenstein said in a short speech at the opening. "What's happened over the ensuing 200 years is a struggle in our country to make these rights - that were said to be for everybody but really weren't - actually for everybody."

Rubenstein has donated millions before, such as $7.5 million to help repair the Washington Monument, $4.5 million for National Zoo Pandas and $75 million for the Kennedy Center.

image: Wikimedia Commons


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