November 6, 2014 "Magna Carta: Muse and Mentor" Exhibition Opened Today at Library

Ribbon-Cutting and Remarks by Her Royal Highness Princess Anne

Press Contact: Donna Urschel (202) 707-1639
Public Contact: Jeanine Cali (202) 707-4642
Website: "Magna Carta: Muse & Mentor" online

The Library of Congress today opened the 10-week exhibition “Magna Carta: Muse and Mentor,” which features the Lincoln Cathedral Magna Carta, the great charter of rights and liberties, one of only four surviving copies of the original issue in 1215.

HRH The Princess Royal, Princess Anne cut the ribbon in the exhibition gallery and spoke briefly during the opening ceremony in the Great Hall of the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building. Sir Peter Westmacott, the British Ambassador to the United States, British dignitaries and Library of Congress officials participated in the morning events.

“Nearly 800 years ago, Magna Carta gave us our first concept of a society governed by the rule of law – a major step. We can remind ourselves of how difficult that has been to maintain, that integrity of the rule of law,” said HRH The Princess Royal, Princess Anne. “I think anniversaries are an opportunity to look forward to what will be happening in maybe 100, 200 years. Will we still be celebrating Magna Carta as it reaches those milestones and its relevance in that time and ensuring that the rule of law remains a valued concept in the future? It is imperative for us to instill these values, this understanding in the next generation."

In conclusion, she said, “I hope you will take advantage of the exhibition that is here in the Library of Congress, to learn a great deal more and to celebrate the real values of the freedoms and independence that rule of law can give us all."

The exhibition, which closes on Jan. 19, 2015, celebrates the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, telling the story of the charter’s creation in England, reinterpretation through the centuries and emergence as an enduring document of constitutional law in the United States.

The exhibition also marks the 75th anniversary of Lincoln Cathedral Magna Carta’s first visit to the Library of Congress. After a six-month public viewing in the British Pavilion at the 1939 New York World’s Fair, the document traveled to Washington, D.C. On Nov. 28, 1939, the British Ambassador to the United States, in an official ceremony, handed Magna Carta over to Librarian of Congress Archibald MacLeish for safekeeping during World War II. The Library placed the document on exhibition until the U.S. entry into the war, when it sent Magna Carta to Fort Knox, Ky. The document returned to England in 1946.

“I was delighted to attend the opening of this splendid exhibition at one of the world’s great storehouses of knowledge, the Library of Congress. Sir Winston Churchill, himself half American, described both Magna Carta and the Declaration of Independence as ‘title deeds of liberty.’ The 800th anniversary of the charter is an excellent opportunity to celebrate our shared values of democracy, liberty and the rule of law,” said Ambassador Westmacott.

The Library’s exhibition is made possible by the Federalist Society and 1st Financial Bank USA. Additional support comes from the Friends of the Law Library of Congress, BP America, the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, the Earhart Foundation, White & Case LLP, the Burton Foundation for Legal Achievement, the Office of the General Counsel of the American University, and other donors as well as contributions received from Thomson Reuters, William S. Hein & Co., Inc., and Raytheon Company through the Friends of the Law Library. The Library also acknowledges the support and assistance provided by the British Council. The exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

More than 75 items are on display in the exhibition, which is free and open to the public Monday through Saturday, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., in the South Gallery on the second floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C. An online version can be viewed at

A companion book for the Library’s exhibition has been published by Thomson Reuters in association with the Library of Congress. “Magna Carta: Muse and Mentor” features a foreword by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. and essays by leading scholars. The 308-page book contains 200 images and is available for $69 in the Library of Congress Shop.

Noon-time gallery talks are scheduled during the 10-week run in the exhibition gallery. The first is Wednesday, Nov. 12, when Nathan Dorn, the exhibition curator and a rare-book specialist in the Law Library of Congress, will discuss selected highlights from “Magna Carta: Muse and Mentor.” Another talk is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 19, when Susan Reyburn, a specialist in the Library of Congress Publishing Office, will discuss the 1215 Lincoln Magna Carta’s first visit to the Library in a presentation titled, “Magna Carta in America: From World’s Fair to World War.” Additional talks will be announced at a later date.

The Law Library of Congress was established in 1832 with the mission to make its resources available to members of Congress, the Supreme Court, other branches of the U.S. government and the global legal community and to sustain and preserve a universal collection of law for future generations. With more than 5 million items in various formats, the Law Library of Congress contains the world’s largest collection of law books and other resources from all countries and provides online databases and guides to legal information worldwide through its website at

The Library of Congress, the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution and the largest library in the world, holds more than 158 million items in various languages, disciplines and formats. The Library serves the U.S. Congress and the nation both on-site in its reading rooms on Capitol Hill and through its award-winning website at


PR 14-197
ISSN 0731-3527