A Great Opening for the "Great Charter" at Fraunces Tavern Museum, "Magna Carta" Exhibit Formal Opening Reveals More Treasures

October 09, 2009 (PRLEAP.COM) Business News
New York city (October 9, 2009) – "Magna Carta and the Foundations of Freedom"-the exhibit of the famous 1215 document that changed the course of human rights-opened with a formal reception and ribbon-cutting at Fraunces Tavern Museum the evening of September 14, 2009. It was a great opening for the document whose name is Latin for "Great Charter".

Downstairs from the Museum, Fraunces Tavern Restaurant closed its doors to the public for the evening to focus its efforts on serving the overflow black-tie crowd gathered to witness the opening of the exhibit. The assembly was so large it was necessary to bring the guests upstairs in smaller groups. It was worth the wait. This ancient sheepskin and the exhibit's message concerning the evolution of human rights universally impressed the attendees.

After a few brief speeches and a ceremonial ribbon cutting, the guests wound their way through the exhibit. Escorted beneath a row of baronial banners representing the men who participated in the document's creation, they were slowly ushered into a small, specially constructed room, darkened to protect the 800-year-old Magna Carta from damage that light can cause. A guard stood at attention next to the special display case throughout the evening.

Beyond the Magna Carta itself, further displays illuminate the role the "Great Charter" played through history-how it came about, what happened to it and how it affected human rights movements in the centuries that followed.

The exhibit also revealed several other treasures:

Making its public debut at Fraunces Tavern Museum is one of only two known "anastatic" copies of the Declaration of Independence. Discovered some 20 years ago in a flea market it was only within the past few years that the owner realized he possessed something unusual. Apparently produced in 1846 by an archaic process employing acids and direct contact with the signed original in Washington, DC, one of the reasons the original is in such poor shape may be due to this copying process. The only other known anastatic copy is at Independence Hall in Philadelphia. The Declaration of Independence drew heavily upon Magna Carta.

Nearby in one of the Museum's antique Tiffany display cases sets a pair of items as telling about the American Revolution as any: a circular protest letter signed by John Hancock in 1768 regarding "no taxation without representation", while next to it rests the very example of what the letter is about: an actual British tax stamp.

A few steps away the visitor will see a modest notebook circa 1883 in the hand of Emma Lazarus wherein she writes an early draft of her poem, "The New Colossus." The poem was later inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty – "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…"

Commenting on the breadth of the exhibit and the preparations that were necessary for it, Museum President Charles C. Lucas exclaimed, "We've had many wonderful exhibits here in the past, but we've never had anything like this. We've climbed to new heights."

"Magna Carta and the Foundations of Freedom" will remain open at Fraunces Tavern Museum to December 15, 2009. Tickets are available online at www.TicketWeb.com or by phone at 1-866-468-7619.

Fraunces Tavern is an historic treasure in its own right. Besides being the location where George Washington bade his famous farewell at the close of the American Revolution, it was also the first site of the new nation's Departments of War, Treasury and Foreign Affairs. The Sons of the Revolution in the State of New York rescued the building from demolition in 1904, restored it, opened it to the public as a museum in 1907 and continues to own and operate it to this day.

For more information visit www.frauncestavernmuseum.org or contact Anthony Wellman, Communications Director, Fraunces Tavern Museum, 54 Pearl Street, New York, NY 10004. Telephone 212-425-1776. Email: Communications@FrauncesTavernMuseum.org.

Caption/credit for accompanying photo "MC_RibbonCuttingPhoto_128.jpg:

Fraunces Tavern Museum, New York City, September 14, 2009. Black tie evening heralds opening of Magna Carta Exhibit. (l-r) Charles C. Lucas, MD, president of Fraunces Tavern Museum, Suzanne Prabucki, Curator of Fraunces Tavern Museum, and The Very Reverend Philip Buckler, Dean of Lincoln Cathedral, cut the ribbon to open "Magna Carta and the Foundations of Freedom" for the evening's guests. The exhibit opened to the public the next day. Photo by James Higgins, Fraunces Tavern Museum