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Display Cases for the Constitution of India

In 1992 the Getty Conservation Institute was asked by the National Physical Laboratory of India (NPL) to provide technical assistance in designing display cases to house the original manuscripts of the Constitution of India. For several years the NPL, at the request of the Parliament Library in New Delhi, had been engaged in developing a suitable device for preserving the manuscripts. Because of the GCI's extensive research on display cases—in particular its work developing a prototype case for the storage and display of the royal mummies in the collection of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo—NPL sought the Institute's assistance.

In March 1994 Neville Agnew and Shin Maekawa of the Institute traveled to New Delhi to install two hermetically sealed display cases designed for the long-term preservation of the Constitution of India documents. The cases were installed at the Parliament Library in India's Parliament House, where the original, hand-written Constitution (in Hindi and English) is kept. Instrumentation for monitoring the cases' performance was also put into place, and NPL staff were trained to maintain the monitoring system.

The technology utilized in these nitrogen-filled cases is independent of electrical power and provides a cost-effective and practical way to preserve fragile organic materials. An official ceremony marking the acceptance of the Parliament Library cases is planned for later this year, following the completion of the in situ testing by the National Physical Laboratory.