I took a day to go to the archives. It has been on my list for years. It is the only place you can see the actual Declaration of Independence, Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The US trinity of democracy if you will. I marveled at the actual size of these documents. In a way I hoped that they were better preserved, yet am amazed that they still exist. Apparently they were not always well treated. For example the Declaration was displayed at the USPTO in a glass case opposite a window for 30 years! That makes it difficult to preserve.
There are other exhibits about what the archive contains, which was educational and entertaining. At the moment there is a display of the Cuban Missile Crisis artifacts including Kennedy speeches. That is of interest because the timing is that it was 50 years ago right now, but it was also interesting to learn all the things that were not public and remain ill covered.
The Archives are opposite of the Smithsonian Art buildings, so take a few hours and visit. The recommended minimum time budget is 90 minutes, but I spent more then 3 hours in the building.
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