05 January 2013

SAVING THE NATIONAL TREASURES : NOVA DVD : THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE

This was a fascinating film, about restoration efforts to preserve our founding documents, focusing on the preservation of the much faded Declaration of Independence. In the 1940's a dead bug had infiltrated the state of the art case for the parchments and had eaten some of the edging. An effort to preserve the documents from all natural disasters including the atom bomb was made. It might have been state of the art but it was not good enough.

In the 1990's technology had advanced and so a team of experts - perhaps too many - came together to debate and design the cases. Crystals were forming on the surface of the parchment. Even vibration could have been damaging the documents. Helium gas had been used and was leaking. There is always the problem of humidity. The new case uses argon gas. An effort to include silica for humidity control was dismissed.

Funniest thing. The whole operation of moving the documents and restoring them was a secret operation. CODE NAME ELVIS!

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