At 1 p.m. on October 17, the doors to the National Archives Museum on Constitution Avenue opened for the first time since September 30. Archivist of the United States David Ferriero greeted the first visitors to enter the building.
“It’s really nice to see people roaming the halls again. I’m proud of the fact that we were able to open our doors as quickly as we did,” said Ferriero. “It’s clear that our visitors are extraordinarily grateful to spend this special time with the documents.”
The message from the Archivist and other staff was “We’re happy to be back,” and the visitors’ feelings were the same.
Visitors had come from across the country and around the world. One couple from St. Louis, MO, had been in Washington three years ago but missed the National Archives. This time they were determined to come to the Archives. Two other California visitors came from the north and south: Los Gatos and Orange County.
Visitors from Italy were among the first people to enter the reopened building, and they were followed by people from several countries. A couple from Japan had been in Washington since Friday and were happy to be able to visit the Federal museums after all. Two men from the United Kingdom—one from London and one from Edinburgh—were in Washington for the first time.
Another pair from Denmark were flying home in three hours and wanted to spend that time in the museums on the Mall. Two men from Melbourne, Australia, had arrived in Washington five days ago, and this was their last day. They were eager to see the original documents in the Archives before they left, especially the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Magna Carta.
A sure sign that things were beginning to return to normal was the appearance of a large school group: 100 eighth-grade students from Minnesota had thought they would miss the National Archives. The school district in Eagan, MN, has been sending groups to Washington for 30 years, and these students had arrived yesterday morning. A chaperon remarked that they “had to punt yesterday” with Federal attractions closed, but they were thrilled to be able to resume their original itinerary today. Just a few minutes later, another group of 70 Minnesota 8th graders arrived—the “cross-town rivals” of the first group.
The National Archives Museum has resumed normal hours. All Presidential Libraries (except the Bush Library) have reopened today. All research rooms at National Archives locations across the country will reopen and resume normal hours on October 18. Come visit us!