The Freedom Museum in McCormick Tribune Tower

The Freedom Museum, opened in April 2006, is located on the first two floors of the McCormick Tribune Tower along the Magnificent Mile in Chicago. Home to the city’s oldest newspaper, the Gothic architecture of the Tribune Tower contains stone pieces of historical significance from the Great Wall of China, the Alamo, the White House, the World Trade Center, and the Berlin Wall. In the central rotunda, vertical cables suspend a two-story spiral sculpture of stainless steel plates, designed by Peter Bernheim and Amy Larimer. Each steel plate, of which 1,000 are planned, represents the text of a document of freedom, a dramatic visual representation of 12151791, the actual date of the ratification of the First Amendment.

The purpose of the Museum, Chicago’s newest cultural addition, is to encourage visitors to explore, understand, and value the freedoms that were given to us all by the First Amendment. Within the 10,000 square feet of exhibit space and along a 30-foot video wall, there are numerous interactive displays, kiosks, and other media installations that encourage visitors to express their opinions, compare their views, and make their own conclusions. Sixteen screens in a full-wall presentation cover subjects such as Influences on American Freedom and Foundations of America where visitors can magnify, interpret, and transcribe the three basic documents of freedom, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence. Five screens represent the various social movements in our history such as Abolition of Slavery, Women’s Suffrage, and the Labor Movement. A digital jukebox plays challenged and banned music, another video displays censored film clips, and polling stations along the wall allow visitors to give their opinions on Supreme Court cases and other controversial issues. The Museum staff continues to update the information from video testimonials and public opinion.

The exhibits present a detailed history of the evolution of freedom from 500 B.C. Greece to 1776 America and beyond including t-shirts worn by students in protest and speeches by world leaders who influenced the rights to freedom. An interesting attraction at the Museum is the Roots of Freedom exhibit which traces the history of freedom in our country and other countries, the groups whose rights were excluded from the Bill of Rights, and the motivations of individuals who risked their lives and reputations in the fight for freedom.

Visitors to the Museum can Hear the Voices of Freedom and read the words of past presidents and celebrities including George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and John F. Kennedy and even record their own Bill of Rights. In addition, other exhibits include memorable text from the Founding Fathers of our country such as Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, and John Adams.

Although the Museum is specifically designed for teenagers and the younger generations to learn more about their nation’s history and its struggle to uphold the basic freedoms granted by the First Amendment, it also sponsors seminars and workshops. These group meetings are held for educators and representatives from museums in other states, giving them the opportunity to discuss in depth the Constitution, our rights, and other issues associated with freedom of speech, religion, press, assembly, and petition.

Rental space with flexible scheduling, catering, and custom pricing for events such as weddings, receptions, discussion groups, and corporate meetings is available in the Museum.

Hours: Wednesday through Monday, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., closed on Tuesdays, and Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.

Admission: $5.00. Free for children ages 5 and under, active duty and reserve military, scout groups, and student field trips. Museum memberships: Individual $20.00/a year and Household/$40.00.

Wheelchairs available and handicap accessible. Limited street parking. Pay parking garages in the vicinity.

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