The building perched in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, designed to protect the president and $4 billion dollars in gold in case of a nuclear fallout during the Cold War, is put to new use: archiving old films with explosive properties.
A video, recently released by Great Big Story, tours the facility that houses 6.3 million items of cinematic history ranging from Adam Sandler movies to Frankenstein.
A substantial number of the films were made on nitrate film which has the same chemical footprint as gunpowder: extremely flammable and hazardous. They are kept in thick-walled vaults to not only protect the building but also other nitrate films.
Walking down a corridor takes a person past many vaults. There are 124 of them, part of the complex which is the Library of Congress’s film headquarters.
George Willeman’s job is to work with the most volatile films in the storage facility, including the nitrate-based films.
Willeman describes a nitrate fire as being similar to a controlled explosion or a rocket taking off. Willeman works with more than 140,000 films.
The center also has a room dedicated to conserving old films in various conditions from around the country discovered in basements, attics, and barns.
A large number of them have no value, but they are part of the historical record with some 100-years-old. The building also has a viewing room with 206 seats for screening films, Digital Trends reported.
The purpose of the Packard Campus is to preserve the TV, movies, and sound that help to preserve a large portion of what life was like at different time periods throughout the past, as well as how recording technology changed over the decades.