Opening Weekend of Civil War and Reconstruction: The Battle for Freedom and Equality

Regular Museum Hours, Thursday, May 9, through Sunday, May 12

Free with Museum Admission

On Thursday, May 9, the National Constitution Center will open Civil War and Reconstruction: The Battle for Freedom and Equality, America’s first exhibit devoted to exploring how constitutional clashes over slavery set the stage for the Civil War, and how the nation transformed the Constitution after the war to more fully embrace the Declaration of Independence’s promise of liberty and equality.

The Center will celebrate the opening of its newest exhibit gallery Thursday, May 9, through Sunday, May 12, with “Artifact Spotlight Talks,” where education staff will discuss some of the most interesting pieces of the exhibit; a Civil War reenactment; dress-up and photo opportunities; meet-and-greets with “historic figures;” and more. A full timeline of events can be found below.

Exhibit Tours
The Center’s education team will lead visitors through Civil War and Reconstruction, exploring American society prior to the Civil War, the events that led to the war, and the challenges, successes, and failures of the Reconstruction period. Visitors will learn more about this tumultuous period in American history as they take a look at several of the unique artifacts and documents on display at the Center.

Artifact Spotlights Talks
Visitors can learn about some of the most unique artifacts in Civil War and Reconstruction, including the rare, signed copy of the Emancipation Proclamation and the fragment of the American flag that President Lincoln raised at Independence Hall.

Civil War Encampment
Thursday and Saturday, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., Sunday, 12 – 3 p.m.
During exhibit opening weekend, the Center’s main lobby will be transformed into a Union army encampment. Visitors will be able to try on replica clothing and take a look at supplies soldiers would have had at the camps. National Constitution Center educators will discuss the harsh conditions of Civil War-era camps and teach visitors about how President Lincoln tried to raise money to support the troops at Sanitary Fairs. Visitors can then view artifacts that were auctioned off at the fairs in the Civil War and Reconstruction exhibit.  

Civil War Artifact Cart
At this hands-on activity, visitors can act as history detectives—searching for clues that objects give us about the past—and examine Civil War-era artifacts up-close.

Military Muster: Civil War Edition
Saturday at 11 a.m., Sunday at 1 p.m.
After exploring the Center’s recreated Civil War encampment, visitors can experience what it might have been like serving in the Union Army, as they learn the art of marching and musket etiquette from a Civil War-era soldier.

Historic Figure Meet and Greets
Thursday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Sunday, 12 – 3 p.m.
Visitors can learn about the Underground Railroad while meeting figures from the 18th century, including Henry “Box” Brown, an enslaved man shipped himself in a box from Virginia to Philadelphia to escape slavery.  


Click here for more information on Civil War and Reconstruction: The Battle for Freedom and Equality.

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