By Brian Gage
The National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, PA is the place to go if you’re looking to learn all about how the United States government came to be through a variety of interesting and engaging activities designed for visitors of all ages.
Made up of several permanent and traveling historical exhibits, original artifacts and documents from the early days of the United States, and the fantastic new Sidney Kimmel Theater where you can see performances meant to build a connection between visitors and the constitution, the Constitution Center has more than enough attractions to keep guests busy throughout their whole day’s visit.
The Signer’s Hall
A huge space depicting the final day of the Constitutional Convention in the Assembly Room of the Pennsylvania State House, complete with 42 brass sculptures showing all of the Founding Father’s present at the event.
There are several familiar faces to be seen, including George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and Alexander Hamilton. The likenesses of these figures were created by Brooklyn-based artists who drew their influence from countless historical sources.
You are more than welcome to pose with any of your favorite members and snap a few photos to show off your new famous friends!
The Story of We the People
The main exhibit at the Constitution Center, The Story of We the People takes guests on a journey through some of the most important events in American history.
The exhibit consists of a plethora of rare and interesting historical artifacts, including a copy of the Emancipation Proclamation, The American National Tree, which is made up of several interactive touch-screens that allow you to learn about 100 citizens who were integral to constitutional history, fantasy elections in interactive voting booths, the actual robe worn by Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and many more fascinating rotating pieces that are subject to change.
You can take part in a variety of daily programs lead by the museum’s education staff, free with your admission fee, such as gallery talks where you can learn all about what you will be seeing in the exhibit and games centered around constitutional and presidential trivia.
While it’s technically a part of the larger The Story of We the People exhibit, Living News is a fantastic and engaging performance that highlights some of the more controversial constitutional issues.
This 25-minute theatrical showcase features three talented actors who switch among multiple roles throughout the performance.
The goal of this short presentation is to encourage visitors to explore their own views on the topics put forth by the Constitution and the relevance these issues have in their daily lives as well as to provide the audience with food for thought on how others may view some of these issues.
The Constitution Center is already home to some of the most fascinating historical exhibits and resources on the early United States, and every year they are adding exciting new features to their already massive collection.
Hamilton: The Constitutional Clashes That Shaped a Nation
Opened this past March after the success of the worldwide phenomenon Hamilton, the new Alexander Hamilton exhibit at the Constitution Center focuses on the great political rivalries that Hamilton experienced throughout his career.
The exhibit has several Hamilton story stations that tell in great depth of the ideological disagreements Hamilton experienced with Thomas Jefferson, Aaron Burr, John Adams and James Madison.
Also featured in the exhibit are a captivating show in the lobby and an engaging trivia game based on Hamilton himself.
Some of the exciting and rare documents that can be found in the Hamilton exhibit include The Reynold’s Pamphlet, where Hamilton
confessed to adultery after defending himself against corruption charges, and a first edition copy of The Federalist, one of Hamilton’s greatest legacies.
Finally reopened after its multimillion-dollar upgrade and renovation, 17-minute Freedom Rising experience in the Sidney Kimmel Theater is a 360 degree live theatrical production that grants the audience a glimpse into the story of the US Constitution and the journey towards freedom.
The performance is meant to stir up powerful emotions in the audience, providing scenes including immigrants, African-Americans fighting for equality, and women gaining the right to vote.
Freedom Rising takes its audience through over 200 years of United States history, hitting key moments such as the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, and the Civil Rights Movement. And even while
touching on some very serious topics, the production is able to retain an entertaining demeanor and incorporate fantastic music.
The National Constitution Center is open Mon-Fri: 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m., Saturday: 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m., and Sunday: 12 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Tickets can be purchased ahead of time via their website, by phone (215.409.6600), or at the door and their address is 525 Arch Street Independence Mall Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19106.
Prices vary and are available from $11-$14.50 depending on the guest, and children 0-5 enter free.
General Admission Tickets Include a timed ticket to Freedom Rising which runs every hour until an hour before the museum closes and admission to The Story of We the People, the iconic Signers’ Hall, Constituting Liberty: From the Declaration to the Bill of Rights, American Treasures: Documenting the Nation’s Founding, and Hamilton: The Constitutional Clashes That Shaped a Nation.
Book your tickets now for a fantastic look into American Constitutional history only available at Philadelphia’s National Constitution Center!
Brian Gage is a resident of Amherst, Massachusetts and a lover of all things outdoors. He enjoys traveling to exciting new locations, attempting to take in the most beautiful natural sites he can see. He is an avid hiker and climber and can be found at the Hadley Central Rock Gym on many of his free days.