Opening of David M. Rubenstein Gallery at National Archives delayed — again

December 10, 2013

Workers put finishing touches on the David M. Rubenstein Gallery at the National Archives. The gallery’s permanent “Records of Rights” exhibition includes a copy of the Magna Carta. (Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post)

First the shutdown — now the snow.

Tuesday’s grand opening of the David M. Rubenstein Gallery at the National Archives was postponed on account of the weather, adding yet another delay to the Archives’ long-anticipated museum-expansion project.

In October, the Foundation for the National Archives announced that construction of the 3,500-square-foot gallery was on hiatus due to the government shutdown. The opening — originally scheduled for Nov. 8 — was pushed back by a month and two days.

Then, the weather happened.

“They’ve been having bad luck,” said Chelsea Beroza, a spokeswoman for the foundation.

The public opening is now scheduled for 2 p.m. Wednesday, following a media preview. The National Archives’s research rooms and museum are closed today.

The David M. Rubenstein Gallery was built to house the new “Records of Rights” exhibition, which will focus on human rights and the ideals of freedom. The exhibition’s centerpiece is a copy of the 1297 Magna Carta that’s on long-term loan from Rubenstein, the Washington financier-philanthropist.

Rubenstein donated $13.5 for the project, which received matching federal funds.

“People began to say, ‘Why don’t we have a separate gallery where we talk about the struggle for freedom and equality this country has gone through?’ ” Rubenstein said in a recent interview with The Post. “The Magna Carta inspired people to feel that they had certain rights that were a part of their inalienable rights.”

David S. Ferriero, archivist of the United States, told my colleague Lonnae O’Neal Parker that the gallery will allow the National Archives to “show not only the impact of that document on our own rights but also to display three areas of rights that we’ve never had the space to display before. We hold these records so people can use them to hold their government accountable and track how decisions were made. There isn’t any other place in the city that has that repository.”

Thomas Heath contributed to this report.

J. Freedom du Lac is the editor of The Post's general assignment news desk. He was previously a Local enterprise reporter and, before that, the paper’s pop music critic.
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