The National Constitution Center
is an organization that seeks to expand awareness and understanding of the United States Constitution
The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. It is the framework for the organization of the United States government and for the relationship of the federal government with the states, citizens, and all people within the United States.The first three...
and operates a museum to advance those purposes.
A groundbreaking ceremony for the museum was held on September 17, 2000–213 years to the day after the original Constitution was signed. On July 4, 2003, it was opened and the National Constitution Center joined other notable sites and iconic exhibits in what has been called "America's most historical square mile" because of the proximity of historical landmarks such as Independence Hall
Independence Hall is the centerpiece of Independence National Historical Park located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States, on Chestnut Street between 5th and 6th Streets...
and the Liberty Bell
The Liberty Bell is an iconic symbol of American Independence, located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Formerly placed in the steeple of the Pennsylvania State House , the bell was commissioned from the London firm of Lester and Pack in 1752, and was cast with the lettering "Proclaim LIBERTY...
. Then-Supreme Court Justice
Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States are the members of the Supreme Court of the United States other than the Chief Justice of the United States...
Sandra Day O'Connor
Sandra Day O'Connor is an American jurist who was the first female member of the Supreme Court of the United States. She served as an Associate Justice from 1981 until her retirement from the Court in 2006. O'Connor was appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1981...
, officiating at the opening ceremonies, said, "It will contribute each and every day to the reinforcement of the basic principles that bind us together as a nation and a people."
The institute's theater presentation is Freedom Rising
which explains the history of the U.S. Constitution, and how the definition of "We the People" has expanded over time.
The main exhibit hall presents a chronology of constitutional history featuring artifacts and original documents, interactive exhibits based on the preamble to the Constitution, and "talk backs" and ways to discuss the Constitution.
Other exhibits are dedicated to the right to vote and divisive issues such as intelligent design
Intelligent design is the proposition that "certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection." It is a form of creationism and a contemporary adaptation of the traditional teleological argument for...
or the death penalty.
"Signers' Hall" features life-sized, cast-bronze sculptures of the 39 signers of the Constitution and the three dissenters.
In September 2010, the National Constitution Center will host an exhibit entitled "Art of the American Soldier" featuring more than 300 works from the U.S. Army Art Collection. In addition to the 300 works, soldier/artists were also given the opportunity to submit works to be part of digital kiosks at the exhibit. The exhibit was designed to contain highly realistic works, such as those of U.S. Army artist, Master Sergent Marin Cervantez. Cervantez commented on his pieces on display in Reuters on the nature of the exhibit "If a soldier takes his family to the museum, I want them to be able to say, 'That's what it was like'."
The museum hosts speakers and events on historic and current constitutional topics. The center hosts a yearly conference, the "Peter Jennings Project for Journalists and the Constitution Conference", which brings journalists together with student journalists to discuss, debate, and deliberate on the role of the free press.
NCC and Presidents
Former President George H.W. Bush served as chairman of the center’s Board of Trustees for the year 2007; it is the only organization for which Bush had served as chairman. His successor as president, Bill Clinton
William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Inaugurated at age 46, he was the third-youngest president. He took office at the end of the Cold War, and was the first president of the baby boomer generation...
, served in 2009.
On March 18, 2008, Senator Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...
delivered a speech on race issues entitled "A More Perfect Union
"A More Perfect Union" is the name of a speech delivered by Senator Barack Obama on March 18, 2008 in the course of the contest for the 2008 Democratic Party presidential nomination...
" at the center, while campaigning for the presidency
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....
- Philadelphia Liberty Medal
The Liberty Medal is an annual award administered by the National Constitution Center of the United States to recognize leadership in the pursuit of freedom. It was originally founded by The Philadelphia Foundation. In 2006 an agreement was made with the National Constitution Center that the NCC...
- An annual award administered by the Center
- Constitution Day (United States)
Constitution Day is an American federal observance that recognizes the adoption of the United States Constitution and those who have become U.S. citizens. It is observed on September 17, the day the U.S...