Displayed under protective argon glass, the invaluable historic documents bearing the signatures of John Winthrop, John Hancock and John Adams have provided the legal basis for the founding and governing of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for nearly four centuries.

They are among the royal charters, bills, constitutions and "one of 14 authentic copies" of the Declaration of Independence on permanent display in the Treasures Gallery of the new Commonwealth Museum at Columbia Point, Boston.

Opened April 16, the museum gives visitors a free tour of Massachusetts history since 1620 through its notable people, events, objects and rarely exhibited documents with an estimated value of $100 million.

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