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A New Framing? Constitutional Representation at Philadelphia's National Constitution Center


Working Paper #34, Fall 2007

Mariah Zeisberg

The National Constitution Center (NCC) in Philadelphia orients its representation of the Constitution around the role of “We the People” in the conduct of constitutional politics. The self-presentation of the NCC explicitly connects its participatory interpretation of the Constitution to the interactivity of the museum experience itself, and announces its aspiration that visitors “get involved!” In so doing the NCC is drawing upon an emerging edge in museum theory that emphasizes the capacity of museums to support political citizenship. Although the museum’s aspiration to enact participatory citizenship is laudable, its exhibits –because of their technologies, use of space, and content--- subvert, rather than sustain, the participatory ideal.

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