In September 2005, the Getty Conservation Institute was recognized by the National Archives of Scotland and the Scottish Parliament for its design and fabrication assistance for the oxygen-free display case for the Declaration of Arbroath—a fourteenth-century document of Scottish independence and a national icon. The ceremony was attended by GCI staff, members of the Scottish Parliament, representatives from the diplomatic community, and members of local cultural institutions.
The ceremony coincided with a reception for the For Freedom Alone exhibition held at the Scottish Parliament House, which highlighted the Scottish Wars of Independence through historic documents. The Declaration of Arbroath—a letter, written in 1320, from the earls and barons of Scotland to Pope John XXII asking for recognition of Scottish independence and acknowledgment of Robert I as king of Scotlandis the centerpiece of the exhibition. Because of its fragile condition, the declaration had not been displayed publicly for more than five years. The specially constructed case allows the document to be viewed by the public. Filled with nitrogen and hermetically sealed to maintain a stable environment, the case incorporates recent design improvements made by the GCI that include the capability to monitor the case's environment from anywhere in the world via the Internet. The display case is the first of its kind in the United Kingdom.
Linda Ramsay, head of conservation at the National Archives of Scotland, was responsible for the conservation of the declaration and oversaw the local fabrication of the case, which was built by Professor Robert Ruben and a team from the Mechanical and Chemical Engineering Department at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh. The display case is the final product of a decade-long project to conserve the Declaration of Arbroath.
For more information on the declaration and on the design of the case, visit the Scottish National Archives.