Bill of Rights on Display at Philadelphia’s National Constitution Center
Visitors to the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia now have the opportunity to view three key pieces of American History all in one place. The National Constitution Center recently opened a new exhibit that includes one of the twelve surviving copies of the Bill of Rights.
The “Constituting Liberty: From the Declaration to the Bill of Rights” exhibition also features a first edition Stone Engraving of the Declaration of Independence and a rare copy of the first public printing of the U.S. Constitution.
Many Americans are not aware that there were originally 14 copies made of the Bill of Rights, which amended the Constitution to protect individual liberty and limit the power of the federal government. George Washington retained one copy and delivered the 13 copies to the states, so that they could determine whether to ratify the amendments.
This copy on display in Philadelphia is on loan from the New York Public Library, which acquired the copy in 1896. Under a historic agreement between the Library and the State of Pennsylvania, the document will be alternatively displayed to the public in both New York and Pennsylvania for the next 100 years.
“The National Constitution Center is thrilled to preview our Constituting Liberty exhibit displaying one of the twelve surviving copies of the Bill of Rights, along with rare copies of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, said Jeffrey Rosen, President and CEO of the National Constitution Center. “By making these rarely-seen historical treasures accessible to the public, we look forward to three years of education and debate about the meaning of the Bill of Rights and our liberties as American citizens.”
The exhibit opened on Bill of Rights Day, December 15, 2014 and will run through 2017. It is the first exhibit in the National Constitution Center’s new George H.W. Bush Gallery. In addition to the displaying the historic documents, a high-tech interactive tool will allow visitors to learn about the origins of the amendments that ultimately became the Bill of Rights, from James Madison’s initial proposals to the versions ultimately ratified by the states.