Mission & History

MISSION

The National Constitution Center serves as America’s leading platform for constitutional education and debate, fulfilling its congressional charter “to disseminate information about the U.S. Constitution on a nonpartisan basis in order to increase awareness and understanding of the Constitution among the American people.”

HISTORY

A private, nonprofit organization, the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia 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 permanent memorial to the Constitution was first proposed around the celebration of the centennial of the Constitution in 1887. However, it did not begin to take shape until the idea was proposed again 100 years later during the document’s bicentennial celebration in 1987.

On September 16, 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed the Constitution Heritage Act of 1988 which established the National Constitution Center. The act called for a national center “within or in close proximity to the Independence National Historical Park” that “shall disseminate information about the U.S. Constitution on a nonpartisan basis in order to increase awareness and understanding of the Constitution among the American people.”

The Center broke ground on September 17, 2000—213 years to the day after the Constitution was signed. Just steps from Independence Hall where the Constitution was signed, the 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.

On July 4, 2003, the Center opened its doors as a thriving museum, bringing the Constitution to life for hundreds of thousands of visitors each year through interactive exhibits, rare documents and artifacts, moving theatre programs, and educational activities.

The Center’s online Interactive Constitution, the centerpiece of its educational efforts, unites scholars from across the legal and philosophical spectrum to explore areas of agreement and disagreement on the history, text, and meaning of nearly every provision of the Constitution. Since its launch in 2015, the Interactive Constitution has made the National Constitution Center’s website the third-most-visited museum website in the country.

As a forum for debate, the Center brings together renowned historians, leading scholars, public officials, and journalists to discuss the Constitution on all media platforms. It hosts thought leaders for live events in Philadelphia, around the country, and through live interactive online platforms, and through video, blog posts, and its weekly podcasts, the Center provides balanced debate on timely constitutional issues.

The National Constitution Center is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, private organization under the dynamic leadership of renown constitutional scholar Jeffrey Rosen. Chairs of the Center’s board of trustees have included Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, President Joe Biden, Governor Jeb Bush, President Bill Clinton, and President George H.W. Bush. Support from generous individuals, corporations, and foundations make possible the Center’s efforts to increase civic education and elevate civil dialogue.

LEARN MORE

Sign up for our email newsletter