FAQs

Learn more about the National Constitution Center, an interactive museum, national town hall, and civic education headquarters dedicated to the U.S. Constitution and its legacy of freedom.

About the National Constitution Center
What is the National Constitution Center?
When was the National Constitution Center created?
Where is the National Constitution Center located?
Why was the National Constitution Center created?
Where is the Constitution? Is it at the National Constitution Center?
Is the National Constitution Center federally funded?
Who designed the building?
What is the building made of?
Who created the statues in Signers’ Hall?
Why aren’t Thomas Jefferson and John Adams in Signers’ Hall?

About Your Visit
Who should visit the National Constitution Center?
What’s included with general admission?
How long should I plan to spend at the National Constitution Center?
Do you sell Philly cheesesteaks?
What else can I do nearby?

About the National Constitution Center

What is the National Constitution Center?

Located just steps from Independence Hall in Philadelphia, the National Constitution Center brings together people of all ages and perspectives, across America and around the world, to learn about, debate, and celebrate the greatest vision of human freedom in history, the U.S. Constitution. A private, nonprofit organization, the Center serves as America’s leading platform for constitutional education and debate, fulfilling our congressional charter “to disseminate information about the U.S. Constitution on a nonpartisan basis.” As the Museum of We the People, the Center brings the Constitution to life for visitors of all ages through interactive programs and exhibits. As America’s Town Hall, the Center brings the leading conservative and liberal thought leaders together to debate the Constitution on all media platforms. As a Headquarters for Civic Education, the Center delivers the best educational programs and online resources that inspire citizens and engage all Americans in learning about the U.S. Constitution. 

When was the National Constitution Center created?

The National Constitution Center was created by the Constitution Heritage Act of 1988. The National Constitution Center broke ground on September 17, 2000—213 years to the day after the Constitution was signed—at 525 Arch Street in Philadelphia’s Independence National Historical Park. The National Constitution Center opened its doors on July 4, 2003.

Where is the National Constitution Center located?

The National Constitution Center’s address is:

Independence Mall
525 Arch Street
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19106

The National Constitution Center is located steps from Independence Hall, where the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence were signed.

The National Constitution Center’s 525 Arch Street address was specifically chosen because May 25 (5/25) is the date that the Constitutional Convention began in Philadelphia in 1787.

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Why was the National Constitution Center created?

A permanent memorial to the Constitution was first proposed around the celebration of the centennial of the Constitution in 1887. It did not begin to take shape until the idea was proposed again 100 years later during the document’s bicentennial celebration in 1987.

President Ronald Reagan signed the Constitution Heritage Act of 1988 on September 16, 1988. The act directed the establishment of the National Constitution Center, an institution “within or in close proximity to the Independence National Historical Park” that “shall disseminate information about the United States Constitution on a nonpartisan basis in order to increase awareness and understanding of the Constitution among the American people.”

Where is the Constitution? Is it at the National Constitution Center?

The National Constitution Center owns a rare, original copy of the first public printing of the Constitution. This printing was published in a newspaper, The Pennsylvania Packet and Daily Advertiser, on September 19, 1787—two days after the Constitution was signed.

The Constitutional Convention was conducted under an oath of secrecy, so this printing represents the first time that Americans—“We the People”—saw the Constitution.

The original signed, handwritten Constitution is at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.

Is the National Constitution Center federally funded?

The National Constitution Center is a private, nonprofit museum. It sits on federal land but is not a federal institution. The Center relies on ticket sales, membership, philanthropic support, and other funding to operate.

Who designed the building?

The renowned architecture firm Pei Cobb Freed & Partners designed the National Constitution Center. The original design of the main exhibit and visitor experience was produced by Ralph Appelbaum Associates.

The design of the National Constitution Center received critical praise from The New York Times, The Baltimore Sun, The Washington Post, and The Philadelphia Inquirer.

What is the building made of?

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. The limestone used in the building is from the same quarry as the Empire State Building’s materials.

Who created the statues in Signers’ Hall?

The 42 life-size, bronze statues of the Founding Fathers in Signers’ Hall were created by artists at Studio EIS in Brooklyn. Approximately 50 artists, including sculptors, designers, costumers, and mold makers, worked on the project.

The project began in early 2001 and was completed in May 2003. The team used numerous historical sources to create the most accurate likenesses possible.

Why aren’t Thomas Jefferson and John Adams in Signers’ Hall?

Many of the Founding Fathers were signers of the Constitution.

Although both Thomas Jefferson and John Adams signed the Declaration of Independence, during the Constitutional Convention they were both overseas serving as ambassadors in Europe, so neither of them signed the Constitution. Jefferson was in France and Adams was in England.

Several other famous Founding Fathers were not signers of the Constitution, such as John Hancock, Samuel Adams, and Patrick Henry.

About Your Visit

Who should visit the National Constitution Center?

The National Constitution Center is an essential Historic Philadelphia destination where people of all ages and backgrounds can explore the history and relevance of the Constitution and celebrate freedom.

What’s included with general admission?

  • A timed ticket to Freedom Rising, an inspiring, 17-minute, multimedia theatrical performance that runs every 30 minutes until an hour before the museum closes
  • Admission to The Story of We the People, a dynamic, interactive exhibi
  • Admission to the iconic Signers’ Hall, where you can sign the Constitution alongside 42 life-size, bronze statues of the Founding Fathers
  • Access to engaging, educational daily museum programs

How long should I plan to spend at the National Constitution Center?

The National Constitution Center features a range of exhibitions, live performances, and programs that illuminate constitutional freedoms and immerse you in the extraordinary story of “We the People.” Whether you have 45 minutes, an afternoon, or an entire day, you’re guaranteed to be moved by what it means to be American.

Do you sell Philly cheesesteaks?

Yes! You don’t have to head to South Philly to enjoy a classic. Treat your taste buds to a Philly cheesesteak “wit” or “witout” at the National Constitution Center’s Delegates’ Cafe.

What else can I do nearby?

As the birthplace of American freedom, Philadelphia offers an inspiring journey through history that no other city can offer.

Don’t miss the essential Historic Philadelphia experience: learn about independence at Independence Hall, salute liberty at the Liberty Bell, and celebrate freedom at the National Constitution Center.

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