AMENDING AMERICA exhibition at the National Archives


[music] In celebration of the 225th anniversary of the Bill of Rights, the National Archives
presents Amending America. On view in the Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery, the exhibit
features original documents from the National Archives that highlight the story of how we’ve
amended or attempted to amend our Constitution in order to form a more perfect union. The
3,000 square-foot exhibit includes petitions, interactives, landmark documents and political
cartoons addressing issues including child labor, prayer in schools, free speech, suffrage,
civil rights and more. Visitors won’t be able to miss the large banner that will start
in the Rotunda and literally lead them to the Amending America exhibit because printed
on the banner will be the more than 11,000 amendments proposed to the Constitution. Although
there have been 27 ratified amendments to the Constitution, there’s been over 11,000
amendments proposed in Congress. The first thing that visitors will see when they enter
the gallery is a montage of photos and film of Americans exercising their First Amendment
rights. Through four different themes, the exhibit will explore the more than 11,000
proposals presented in Congress to amend the constitution, as well as the impact of the
27 ratified amendments. The themes include individual rights, the power and structure
of the federal government and the amending process. Visitors to the gallery will be able
to cast their ballot about questions relating to amendments. The gallery will feature an
interactive poll where visitors can text their responses to questions about amendments and
also see how the other visitors to the gallery have responded as well. One of the 11,000 proposed amendments suggested
that we pick our President by lot, or by drawing a ball out of an urn. This is the proposed
amendment here, and we had some fun with it and the absurdity of the idea, and made an
interactive for the gallery, where visitors will be able to take that concept that we’ve
put into this interactive and turn the crank. A ball will fall into the slot, and inside
the ball are sensors that will read and tell us the name of the next President of the United
States. And we worked with Google and used Google search data to get names from every
state. The last section of the exhibit is called
“How We Amend” and it explains the process of how an idea becomes an amendment. That
process can be a little bit complicated to understand, so we decided to make an animation
in collaboration with the History Channel, to show the process of how an idea becomes
an amendment. As part of the exhibit, we’ll have an eBook
that will function as a virtual catalog for the gallery. It contains all the documents
in the gallery, plus a few extras. The eBook will be available for free to download from
the iTunes store and can also be accessed through the publications page on Archives.gov.
The National Archives plays an important role in the ratification process. After three-quarters
of the states submit ratification documents to our Office of the Federal Register with
a courtesy copy to Congress, the amendment is considered ratified. The amendment is then
forwarded to the Archivist of the United States for official certification. Learn more about
the amendment process when you visit our latest exhibit “Amending America.” [music]

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