Youve got about another month if you want to take pictures inside the exhibition areas of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) building in Washington, DC.
NARA announced that starting Feb. 25, members of the public will be prohibited from filming, photographing and videotaping in exhibition areas. (The press release gives the date as Feb. 25, but the Federal Register says Feb. 24I’ll let you know when I find out which is correct.)
Archivists are concerned that exposure to flash photography is hastening fading of the Charters of Freedomthe Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rightsand other documents on display in the National Archives Experience.
Archivists estimated the documents were subjected to about 50,000 flashes a yeardespite an explicit 30-year ban on flash photography, signage to that effect throughout the exhibit area, and reminders from security guards.
The advent of cameras with automatic flash have made the no-flash policy almost impossible to enforce, according to NARAs press release. The ban on all photography followed internal analysis and a 60-day public comment period. Click here to read the announcement in the Federal Register, which includes public comments received and NARA responses.
Will not pulling out your camera make a visit to Charters of Freedom less enjoyable or meaningful? Here’s an interesting blog post from the Washington City Paper on how this new rule could change the experience of visiting museums.
You wont be able to take a picture of your family admiring the Declaration of Independence, but you still can get images of the historical documents safeguarded at NARA: Download them free from the Charters of Freedom website or, if you visit NARA in Washington, DC, you can pick up a free color copy.