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We help people understand and appreciate the U.S. Constitution. The National Constitution Center is an independent, non-partisan, and non-profit organization dedicated to increasing public understanding of, and appreciation for, the Constitution, its history, and its contemporary relevance, through an interactive, interpretive facility within Independence National Historical Park and a program of national outreach so that We the people may better secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.
The National Constitution Center was established by the Constitution Heritage Act of 1988. Passed by Congress and signed by President Ronald Reagan, the Act created the Center as an organization and first established building the National Constitution Center as an important national goal. Over the next several years, the Center developed programs such as I Signed the Constitution in honor of National Constitution Week (September 17 a^?? 23). The Center also honored Americans like Congressman John Lewis; Benjamin C. Bradlee, vice-president at large and former executive editor of the Washington Post; and the late Ambassador Walter Annenberg, with the We the People Award. In addition, the Center commissioned national polls that surveyed Americana^??s knowledge of the Constitution. On September 14, 1998, the architectural firm of Pei Cobb Freed & Partners and the exhibit design firm Ralph Appelbaum Associates were chosen as the design a^??dream teama^?? for the 160,000 square foot Center. Architect Henry N. a^??Harrya^?? Cobb has designed dozens of international projects including the recently completed and nationally acclaimed United States Courthouse in Boston and Commerce Square in Philadelphia. Ralph Appelbaum Associates is best known for museums with complex educational content like the Constitution Center. Appelbauma^??s interpretive museum design is at the core of the most important museums in recent history, including the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, DC and the Museum of African American History, Detroit, Michigan. One year later, on September 16, 1999, Academy Award-winning actor, civic activist, and National Constitution Center trustee, Richard Dreyfuss, hosted the public presentation of the design for the first-ever museum dedicated to the U.S. Constitution. On September 17, 2000, 213 years to the day the U.S. Constitution was signed, the National Constitution Center broke ground. President Bill Clinton presided over the official groundbreaking ceremonies, which included the naturalization of 75 new American citizens and the announcement of a $10 million gift from the Annenberg Foundation. In honor of the gift, the interactive outreach wing of the Center is named the Annenberg Center for Education and Outreach. On July 4, 2003, the elegant, two-story National Constitution Center officially opened its doors to the public. Located on the third block of Independence Mall and serving as the northernmost anchor of the Mall complex, the Center tells the story of the U.S. Constitution through more than 100 interactive and multimedia exhibits, photographs, sculpture, text, film, and artifacts.
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