It was on Fourth of July, 1776, that the Declaration of Independence was ratified by the Founding Fathers of the United States, a group of revolutionary leaders who united the 13 colonies to announce their freedom from the clutches of Great Britain. The Independence Hall where the US Constitution was ratified and signed was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.
And it is in Philadelphia that you will come across the National Constitution Center, a state of the art museum dedicated to the study of the US Constitution. One of the key activities of the Center is educational outreach to make visitors aware about the history of the US Constitution through exhibits and interactive programmes.
Interestingly, the building is made of American products, including 85,000 square feet of Indiana limestone, 2.6 million pounds of steel, and a half-million cubic feet of concrete, according to the website. The limestone used in the building is from the same quarry as the Empire State Building’s materials.
Through the Interactive Constitution programme, it allows visitors of all ages ‘to engage with the text of the Constitution, discover how experts agree and disagree about its history and meaning, and explore arguments on all sides of the constitutional debates at the center of American life’.
One of their popular programmes reopened recently with Philadelphia based actor Kathy Simpson back to present the story of the US Constitution and its history. After a multimillion dollar renovation and upgrade of the Sidney Kimmel Theater, according to their website, the 360 degree live theatrical production ‘Freedom Rising’ will be performed every half hour. Another interesting stop is the Signers’ Hall where 42 life-size, bronze statues of the Founding Fathers are on display.
Freedom Rising, Signers’ Hall are free with the general admission ticket which also includes visits to the interactive display called ‘The Story of We The People’ and daily educational programmes at the museum.
While there, do not forget to catch a glimpse of a rare, original copy of the first public printing of the Constitution. It was published in the newspaper The Pennsylvania Packet and Daily Advertiser on September 19, 1787, two days after the Constitution was signed; this was the first time that the people got to read the contents of the Constitution.
The National Constitution Center has also lined up a variety of programmes for Fourth of July celebrations this year.