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Current Exhibition




The Federal Presence in Philadelphia


The United States Federal Government was conceived, born and spent its infancy in Philadelphia, just steps away from Washington Square. The First Continental Congress was held at Carpenters' Hall in 1774, and the Pennsylvania State House hosted the Second Continental Congress which produced the Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederation. In 1787, the Constitutional Convention was held there. From 1790 to 1800 Philadelphia was the capital of the United States. A handful of remarkable landmark buildings remain to remind us of the Republic’s formative years, but the Federal presence did not end when the U.S. government headed south to Washington at the dawn of the Nineteenth Century. Drawn from the Athenaeum’s extensive collection of architectural drawings, prints and photographs, this exhibition demonstrates the powerful built and unbuilt legacy of U.S. government buildings in Philadelphia.  It offers insight into the changing role of the Federal Government in the lives of its citizens and the evolution of architectural styles to reflect that change in bricks and mortar.

Exhibition Dates: January 28-April 26, 2019

Free Admission

Lunchtime Gallery Talks:


Wednesday, April 3, 12PM

RSVP is required for gallery talks.  Space is limited.  Contact events@PhilaAthenaeum.org or call 215-925-2688.