Exploring 'We the People'

National Constitution Center Opens in Philadelphia

The preamble to the U.S. Constitution adorns the National Constitution Center's facade. Courtesy National Constitution Center (Scott Frances Ltd.) hide caption

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itoggle caption Courtesy National Constitution Center (Scott Frances Ltd.)

A computer rendering of the "Participation Cafe," where visitors can e-mail their representatives and search for more information about the Constitution. Courtesy National Constitution Center hide caption

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itoggle caption Courtesy National Constitution Center

On Independence Day, Americans celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence. But that's not quite the end of the story. WHYY's Brad Linder reports on the new National Constitution Center museum opening in Philadelphia on July 4.

"More teenagers on the eve of voting can name the Three Stooges than the three branches of government," says Joseph Torsella, CEO of the National Constitution Center. The Center, created by the Constitution Heritage Act in 1988, develops programs to combat Americans' dwindling knowledge of the U.S. Constitution.

Renowned architect Harry Cobb designed the museum. Cobb's other projects include the U.S. federal courthouse in Boston, Ma.

The Constitution Center contains many exhibits, videos and live shows. Many of these are interactive: One allows visitors to take the presidential oath of office; another lets visitors sit in a replica of the Supreme Court chamber and listen to court arguments. Ralph Appelbaum Associates, designer of the permanent exhibition at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., designed the exhibits.

Constitution Center organizers also hope to see visitors get more involved in politics. The "Participation Cafe" contains computers allowing visitors to e-mail their representatives and learn more about the Constitution.

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