What are some of the considerations for displaying the Declaration of Independence desk?

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Well, I wish that it was possible to display it publicly open in the way that it would have been used to write, to sit and write at. The best that we can do given the current necessities or requirements of conservation is to keep the writing surface folded up and certainly you can't expose the affidavit to light. That's fading, so it presents some display problems just by its own design, but you can show it with the drawer slightly opened and you can see it with the drawer slightly opened and the effects of his hand and the ink stains and that sort of thing. You can see his inventive turn of mind at play in these kinds of things that he designed for his own use that I think is a testimony of his just inventive and utilitarian nature. I mean, stripped down to the elements, you really can't get any more modest than this. It's not elegant. It's not overly decorated. It's really a purely functional kind of device that has a couple of different uses, for as a storage device, as a reading prop and then as a writing table, but I guess it's the inventive frame of his or nature of him as a person I think that comes through pretty clearly.


Interview with Larry Bird, National Museum of American History, May 31, 2006.