Education just got a lot more exciting in Philadelphia, thanks to the National Constitution Center.
This summer, the Philly museum will host special programming and free admission this Saturday, June 19, in honor of Juneteenth; Thursday, July 1, courtesy of Wawa for Wawa Hoagie Day; and Sunday, July 4, in honor of Independence Day.
The National Constitution Center also recently expanded its museum experience, inviting visitors to access signature exhibit spaces and performances. The Center resumed offering live performances of Freedom Rising in the Sidney Kimmel Theater and reopened its main exhibit, The Story of We the People, and its rare document galleries.
Beginning Wednesday, June 16, the center will be open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Here is a closer look at the upcoming programs happening this summer.
On Friday, June 18, at 12:30 p.m., the National Constitution Center will host a live guided tour of Civil War and Reconstruction: The Battle for Freedom and Equality. Virtual visitors can learn how constitutional clashes over slavery set the stage for the Civil War, and how the nation transformed the Constitution after the war during the Reconstruction period by taking a close look at the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments.
A museum educator will highlight special artifacts on display and stories of people like Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, Harriet Tubman, and other figures central to the conflict over slavery. This event is free on Zoom. Members of the public can register online.
The National Constitution Center is offering many ways to celebrate Juneteenth, the annual commemoration of the end of slavery in America in 1865. On June 19, 1865, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed and nearly five months after the 13th Amendment was passed (six months before it would be ratified), enslaved people in Texas learned that they were free and that slavery in America had officially been abolished.
The center will commemorate this anniversary with online resources, free museum admission, and special programs in conjunction with its feature exhibit, Civil War and Reconstruction: The Battle for Freedom and Equality.
On Thursday, July 1, Wawa invites visitors to enjoy free admission and an array of patriotic festivities surrounding the Fourth of July—including the interactive Independence Day show, exploring the history of the Declaration of Independence and how the definition of “We the People” has expanded since Thomas Jefferson penned the famous words “…all men are created equal…” in 1776.
Over the Fourth of July holiday weekend, there will be plenty of ways to celebrate—including free admission days on July 1 and 4, as well as special events, shows, craft activities, trivia games and more.
The National Constitution Center is partnering with neighboring sites throughout Historic Philadelphia for its annual Finding the Founders event. Visitors can join conversations with scholars who will share their insights on equality and freedom through the lens of the American Revolution. The program will provide an expanded understanding of Independence Day—one that sees the holiday as both a celebration and an acknowledgment of America’s ongoing struggle to achieve the ideals expressed in the nation’s founding documents. Scholars and topics include Revolutionary women with historian Sandra Lloyd, the Dred and Harriet Scott landmark Supreme Court case with Dr. Mathew Pinsker, and Reminder Day and the LGBT Rights Movement with William Way Community Center archivist and curator Bob Skiba.
At a re-created military encampment on the National Constitution Center’s front lawn, visitors can join Revolutionary War re-enactors and visit the surgeon in the medical tent, watch the blacksmith forge steel, see Continental Army soldiers march and drill on the grounds, and practice being a soldier with a wooden musket. The Revolutionary War Encampment will take place daily Friday, July 2, through Sunday, July 4, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the main lobby and on the front lawn.
Finally, on the Fourth of July, the National Constitution Center’s Independence Week celebration continues with free museum admission, plus an array of patriotic festivities including the interactive Independence Day show and family-friendly programs.
The National Constitution Center is located at 525 Arch Street on Philadelphia’s Independence Mall. Call 215-409-6700 or visit constitutioncenter.org for the most up-to-date program information or to purchase tickets.