Media release: Tuesday, 15 April 2014
Documents described as the nation's 'birth certificates' will be on special view at the National Archives over the Easter (Saturday, Sunday, Monday only) and Anzac weekends.
Housed in the Federation Gallery, the seven documents are recognised as some of Australia's most valued records. They include the original Constitution Act passed by the British Parliament – which created the Commonwealth of Australia – and the Royal Commission of Assent to the act signed by Queen Victoria on 9 July 1900.
The fragile nature of the documents means they are on public view only on rare occasions, to ensure their preservation for future generations.
Tests have shown that parts of the documents may risk fading if they remain permanently on show, so the Federation Gallery now opens its doors only for special public viewing days. At other times, the documents are stored under the protection of heavy blackout covers.
'We need to carefully balance the documents' preservation needs with the public's interest in viewing them,' Director-General of the National Archives David Fricker said.
'It is vital that we ensure the survival of our nation's birth certificates by protecting them from light but we also wish to encourage Australians to view and value them.'
The documents will be on view on from Saturday 19 to Monday 21 April and from Friday 25 to Sunday 27 April, from 9am to 5pm. The National Archives is closed on Good Friday.
Staff will also be available to explain some of the interesting aspects of the documents and visitors will receive a pocket edition of Australia's Constitution to take home.
Other exhibitions at the National Archives, including Memory of a Nation and I've been working on the railway will also be open, as usual, over both weekends.