The Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate will open its doors on March 31. Boston's latest cultural attraction, a life-sized, interactive representation of the U.S. Senate chamber. The concept—developed by the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy, his wife Vicki, and experience designer Ed Schlossberg of ESI Design—aims to spark discourse among the public and inspire visitors to become more active within their communities upon
witnessing the legislative process that keeps America a democratic society.
Through a series of exhibits, installations pertaining to the legislative process, and a theater—not to mention a personal digital tablet— the institute will not only offer visitors an educational experience, but also interactive and social experiences too. For example, a Senate Immersion Module lets visitors participate in both past and present U.S. Senate hearings. These engaging activities will provide an interactive look at the federal government, ranging from a law's creation to issues like healthcare and immigration. While visitors will be able to vote on contemporary issues during the tour, dynamic exhibits up to 53 feet long will be projected on the walls throughout the museum, telling the story of the U.S. Senate.
New York– based firm Rafael Viñoly Architects designed the 68,000-square-foot institute in collaboration with multiple firms consultants, including Richard Lewis Media Group, which produced multimedia content for the exhibits, and Gigantic Mechanic, which designed the game logistics and rules for the Senate Immersion Module. ESI Design developed the vision for the Institute, the overarching visitor experience and exhibit design, and directed a team of leading multi-disciplinary firms to bring it to life. The building is clad in white concrete at the ground level, while the upper level, where the representation of the U.S. Senate chamber resides, is coated in a gray composite paired with metallic paint. The composite material was chosen to complement the neighboring JFK Library's black glass housing.
The $78-million institute is sited in Boston's Dorchester neighborhood in Boston, where members of the Kennedy family and several high-ranking government officials, including President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, several U.S. Senators, and Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh attended an opening ceremony on Monday morning.