The National Constitution Center

The National Constitution Center, a 160,000 square foot museum designed by architect Henry M. Cobb, opened on July 4, 2003 at 525 Arch Street in Philadelphia. It was established in accordance with the Constitution Heritage Act of 1998 as a means of providing for us all the interpretation and understanding of the provisions and significance of this important historical document. The preamble to the Constitution, “We the People…, featured on an exterior wall of the two-story stone building, can be seen from several blocks away, while skylights and glass enclosed exhibits bring light and transparency into the Center. Located in Independence Historical Park, the Center is approximately a quarter of a mile from Independence Hall, where the Constitution of the United States was debated, agreed upon, and signed.

Upon entering the museum, visitors are shown Freedom Rising, a dramatic theater-in the-round live presentation in the DeVoss Exhibit Hall, which runs twice each hour. Further within the Center, there are numerous theme-based and interactive exhibits which invite willing participants to answer questions, e-mail elected officials, observe constitutional issues, and post opinions on such topics as the death penalty and the theory of intelligent design. The Constitution Center presents a variety of special events, programs, and lectures in observance of national holidays and on various subjects such as Women in Faith, Immigration and Economic Liberty, the famous Dred Scott vs. Sanford court decision, Walter Isaacson’s biography of Einstein, and a discussion of the war in Iraq by Washington Post journalist and author of “Fiasco,” Thomas Ricks.

Students in grades 7 — 12 can participate in Living News, an interactive performance and forum relating to current constitutional issues in the news, explore the judicial system and act as judge and jury in famous historical cases, or learn the rights and responsibilities of an American citizen. In addition, they can spend the day touring exhibits on presidential powers and political platforms, as well as watch noteworthy campaigns and elections of the past. Other enjoyable, interactive activities include participating in a First Amendment freedom skit, learning about papermaking or the printing press, or viewing political cartoons about some of our nation’s leaders. Signer’s Hall on the second floor is a large room surrounded by the flags from all 50 states, where visitors may sign their name on a worldwide electronic register, reaffirming their beliefs in democracy and freedom. There are 12 interactive stations in the Hall, as well, where a repository of information on constitutional issues is available to the public. Each visitor to the Hall will leave with his or her own pocket sized Constitution.

More than one million people of all age groups and interest levels visit the National Constitution Center each year, and countless others take advantage of the national education and outreach programs on radio and TV, the online virtual museum, and the public opinion research that the Center provides.

Hours: Monday — Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., & Sunday, 12 Noon to 5:00 p.m.
Admission: Adults – $12.00, seniors 65+ – $11.00, children 4—12 – $8.00, active military and children under 4 — free. Ph: 215-409-6600 or 866-917-1787, Monday — Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., or purchase online.
Parking: Underground lots at both the Constitution and Independence Centers.
Dining: The Delegates Restaurant, open daily 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Handicap accessible, call in advance for special needs.

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