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“Initially underwhelmed, but other exhibits make up for it” 3 of 5 bubbles
Review of The National Archives Museum

The National Archives Museum
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Viator VIP: Best of DC Including US Capitol and National Archives Reserved...
Ranked #25 of 418 things to do in Washington DC
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Owner description: Repository where the most important historical documents of the United States are held, such as the original Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights, Constitution and the 1297 version of the Magna Carta.
baltimore, md
Level Contributor
121 reviews
59 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 122 helpful votes
“Initially underwhelmed, but other exhibits make up for it”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 16 July 2014

I worked myself up into a lather because I was finally going to see the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Boy, what a disappointment. Don't get me wrong. I'm glad they're preserved and on display but they're illegible! The room they're kept in is way too dark. I get it. Light is damaging to the documents. But it's too dark to read them! And most of the words have faded to the point where you just can't make them out. John Hancock's signature was the only one I could make out on the whole document and that's because he wrote it ten times too large! I left the room feeling a little underwhelmed by it all.
Now, the other galleries and public vaults were fascinating. I could have spent the whole day just looking at the various historical records, letters, film footage, etc. The hands-on exhibits were impressive. Truly a treasure trove of material and the very essence of our history. I don't know about waiting in line because we went on a Wednesday afternoon in July around 2:00 and walked right in. Didn't bother with reserving tickets etc...

Visited July 2014
Thank fawn3620
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Springboro, Ohio
Level Contributor
43 reviews
23 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
“See our founding documents close up”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 16 July 2014

Great displays of all our important documents. Detailed displays of how all print and digital media gathered and protected and in some cases later de-classified. Wonderful museum. Make a reservation for a timed visit. Declaration of Independence, Magna Carta, Bill of rights and the beautiful Rotunda.....

Visited July 2014
Thank Kathy G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Vadnais Heights, Minnesota
Level Contributor
205 reviews
127 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 67 helpful votes
“Worth it”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 15 July 2014

We waited in line but the line does move along. Watch the time tho. They stop letting people in 30 minutes before closing and we saw people turned away that reached the door after waiting. Security checks are what holds the line up. We did not need tickets, nor see others use them. There is also a line to wait to see the Declaration of Independence. The documents are faded and hard to read, especially with so many people trying to do the same. The rotunda is beautiful and worth the visit alone. There are other interesting things, i.e. Michael Jackson's patented shoes. It would have been interesting to see more in the library, however it wasn't open when we were there.

Visited July 2014
Thank europewithKellynRyan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Ohio City, Ohio
Level Contributor
36 reviews
20 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 21 helpful votes
“For the history a buff, this is a must, but get your tickets early”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 13 July 2014

We ordered our tickets online for a timed entry. When we arrived at 10am for our 10:30 entry, the line for those that did not have tickets was extremely long and they were waiting in the heat. We walked just to the right of the building and a worker let us right in, no waiting. When walked right up to the Declaration of Independence and Constitution - NO waiting, no lines, no masses of people. SO GO ONLINE AND GET A TIMED ENTRY. There is an online processing fee, which is minimal. After viewing the "major" documents, you can move throughout the building to see other neat items and documents. You can pick up telephones and listen to recorded conversations of presidents. You see pictures and letters. There are nice bathroom facilities here and a gift shop. It just is a neat place to visit - just get your timed entry tickets early!!!

Visited July 2014
Thank LMcNala
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Arlington, Virginia
Level Contributor
479 reviews
193 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 235 helpful votes
“More than just the Constitution”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 12 July 2014

The major attraction of the Archives is obviously the original Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. There's often a long line to get into the building to see them, and the documents themselves are badly faded due to lack of early preservation. But standing in the fabulous Rotunda with these documents and the murals of the Founding Fathers, you really feel like you are literally standing in the "Birthplace of Liberty."

The Archives has a lot more than just these famous documents, though. The Public Vault section has a large collection of priceless historical documents such as the Emancipation Proclamation and objects like Nixon's tape recorder. There is a new exhibit in the lower level showcasing the history of human rights in America, with sections on racial, gender and ethnic equality and accompanying documents and interactive exhibits, as well as a rare copy of the Magna Carta (sadly more legible than the Declaration of Independence, though it is 500 years older).

There is also a temporary exhibit; currently, it's a terrific exhibit focusing on autographs. There's Michael Jackson's signed patent application for anti-gravity shoes, a copyright lawsuit signed by Walt Disney, a draft registration card signed by Babe Ruth listing his occupation as "baseball"! A whole lot of interesting stuff here.

You can see the most famous documents quickly, but there is a lot more that is worth closer examination if you have the time (unfortunately, you need to wait in the security line even if you aren't going to look at the documents in the Rotunda).

Visited July 2014
1 Thank Brendan S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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