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Faith and Liberty Discovery Center

Posted on Wednesday, June 23, 2021

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Faith and Liberty Discovery Center, Philadelphia

Along 5th and Market Street, between the National Constitution Center and Independence Hall, a new attraction has arrived to the Independence National Historical Park area. The Faith and Liberty Discovery Center, which sits across the street from the National Museum of American Jewish History and next to the historic Mikveh Israel Synagogue, seeks to illuminate the ties between religious faith and our nation’s founding.

The Faith and Liberty Discovery Center features exhibits, historical artifacts, and immersive experiences, and positions itself as an “attraction”, instead of a traditional museum. Tradition, however, abounds at the Faith and Liberty Discovery Center as it explores the origins of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and the nation as a whole using incredibly preserved Bibles, well-crafted historical replicas, and high-tech animations and films. The attraction is divided into six sections that speak to a different American values: faith, liberty, justice, hope, unity, and love.

Faith and Liberty Discovery Center's Guiding Principles

Upon entering through the gleaming white lobby, you are given an electric “torch” that you can use to guide, shape, and personalize your experience through the exhibition halls. As you stroll through the hallways, you’ll pass by portraits of the Shackamaxon Treaty that established Philadelphia, as well as documents about the Great Awakening that fostered a new generation of American spirituality, and all the while you use your lantern to activate animations and illuminate quotes and facts.

Faith and Liberty Discovery Center, Torch

Items such as William Penn’s personal Bible, the original invoice for the Liberty Bell, and even the first Bible printed in North America, are highlighted in glass cases as you learn how the religious freedom espoused by Philadelphia’s founder evolved into the political freedom of the United States which was founded in Philadelphia.

After the section on early American history, you find yourself in a hall of civil rights activists who were inspired by their faith. Philadelphia’s own Richard Allen, founder of the African Methodist Episcopalian Church, precedes figures such as Sojourner Truth and Frederick Douglass. This introduces their following section on slavery and the biblically inspired abolitionists who fought against it.

Faith and Liberty Discovery Center Civil Rights Leaders

Afterwards, you enter a large round room detailing the more recent contributions of people inspired by religion, featuring items like Helen Keller’s Bible. You conclude the exhibition by exiting through a dark blue tunnel, a glowing spark tracing your lantern’s movement. The information gathered by your lantern is then relayed back to you, informing you of which exhibit you examined the most and which figures you read the most about.

However, that is far from all that the Faith and Liberty Discovery Center has to offer. Just before reentering the lobby, you can enter an immersive theater that transports you through time. The surrounding walls covered in realistic projections, you may feel as if you’re sharing William Penn’s jail cell, or embarking across the sea to join him in Philadelphia. Afterwards, you can use your torch to explore deeper into Philadelphia history and its ties to the Bible. Interactive adventures are available for many of the sites along the Constitutional Walking Tour, such as Carpenters’ Hall, Franklin Court, and Arch Street Friends’ Meeting House. The Faith and Liberty Discovery Center emphasizes the way that faith has helped fuel American independence and freedom regardless of religion.

Faith and Liberty Discovery Center, William Penn's "Promotional Publication"

Operating Hours

Thursdays through Saturdays from 10AM to 5PM, as well as Mondays. Tickets are $10 for adults, $7 for visitors ages 7 to 17, and free for children 6 and under. There is a senior rate of $9 for those 65+, a military rate of $9, and a college student price of $9

Faith and Liberty Discovery Center
101 N. Independence Mall East, Suite 100
Philadelphia, PA 19106
215.349.0401

 

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