The Gettysburg Address:

Issues Related to Display and Preservation

RCED-94-12: Published: Jan 26, 1994. Publicly Released: Jan 26, 1994.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the risks of exhibiting a draft of the Gettysburg Address at the Gettysburg National Military Park, focusing on: (1) whether the National Park Service can meet the Library of Congress' exhibition and preservation requirements; and (2) the estimated cost of exhibiting the document at the park compared to the cost of constructing a facility at the Library of Congress.

GAO found that: (1) the risks of exhibiting two drafts of the document are related to the environment, facility safety and security, document handling, and accelerated degradation caused by exposure to light; (2) these risks will exist wherever the drafts are exhibited; (3) Library of Congress officials believe that the Park Service has met, and often exceeds, existing exhibition and preservation requirements; (4) the Park Service's ability to meet future preservation requirements is contingent on sufficient funding; (5) the Library of Congress and the Park Service have established specific environmental parameters to protect the drafts from damage that include the appropriate temperature, humidity, and illumination levels for exhibition; and (6) the estimated cost to exhibit the documents could not be determined, since the current facility exists solely to exhibit the drafts and a new facility at the Library would exhibit all the Library's national treasures.

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