Introducing Friends of the Institute

As a tribute to Senator Kennedy's 47-year career, gifts of $47 and up recognize you as a Friend of the Institute.

About the Institute

May 7, 2014

Edward M. Kennedy Institute Announces March 2015 Public Opening And Building Operation

May 7, 2014

Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate

Announces March 2015 Public Opening and Building Dedication

(BOSTON) – Today, the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate (EMK Institute) announced it will open to the general public with a formal dedication in March of 2015.

The heart and soul of the Institute is a full-scale representation of the U.S. Senate Chamber with viewing gallery - a vivid expression of Senator Kennedy’s abiding commitment to public service. Senator Kennedy had a deep respect for the United States Senate and its unique role in our system of government. He believed that it has the power to make a positive difference in the lives and futures of men and women around the globe. Inside the Chamber, a one-of-a-kind Senate simulation experience will enable visitors to debate, negotiate, and vote on legislation. Through this educational immersion and other programs, participants will learn about the legislative process, as well as the value of public debate, deliberation and civic engagement.

Senator Kennedy once said: “We know the future will outlast all of us, but I believe all of us will live on in the future we make.“ By opening a window of understanding into the important role of the United States Senate, the Institute will inspire and invite a new generation to shape and share in that future regardless of party, ideology, age or station in life.

“The mission of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate is as clear as it is urgent,” said Victoria Reggie Kennedy, co-founder and president of the board of the EMK Institute. “When the Institute opens its doors to the public next March, it will offer a real time perspective on how government should work. It will show how, throughout our history, men and women of goodwill and both parties came together to address the greatest challenges facing our nation. And by shining a light on our past, it will help illuminate the path forward for addressing challenges we face today and in the future.”

Housed in a beautiful 65,000 square-foot facility designed by world renowned architect Rafael Viñoly, the Institute will be a dynamic center of learning and civic engagement. It will use cutting-edge technology to convey the history of United States Senate and its pivotal role in America’s development and governance.

The Institute’s innovative visitor experience was developed by Ed Schlossberg and his team at ESI Design as a new model of immersive, experiential learning for high school and university students, national and international leaders, journalists, academics, citizens and visitors from around the world.

The Institute is located next to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. The location, on the University of Massachusetts – Boston campus on Columbia Point, will enrich the cultural and educational life of Boston and the region and serve the country as a center of national and international scholarship and public discourse.

As construction nears completion, a planned rollout will bring the Institute to life in stages in the next year with three tracks of targeted outreach, public activities, and initial programming leading up to the public dedication next March.


Designed to be a dynamic laboratory of democracy, the EMK Institute’s programs will serve the general public and students at every educational level. Teachers, scholars, Senators, Senate staff, international visitors and public servants at the municipal, state and federal levels will all participate in the Institute’s programs and experiential learning activities.

A unique feature of the Institute will be the one-of-a-kind immersion role offered to visitors in a full-scale representation of the actual U.S. Senate Chamber. A simulation of the Senate experience developed exclusively for the Institute will enable participants to debate, negotiate, and vote on legislation. In some sessions, participants will tackle tough contemporary issues; in others, they will debate historic issues in dramatic re-creations of significant moments in the Senate’s history. Through the immersion experience and other programs, participants will learn about the legislative process and that debate and negotiation play key roles in the passage of effective legislation.

The exhibits in the Institute will explore history, reveal the Senate at its best – at trying times and in the present – and ask visitors to give back to their country and community. Exhibition highlights include:

  • FULL-SCALE REPRESENTATION OF THE U.S. SENATE CHAMBER - in the Chamber visitors will use handheld tablets to engage with content and one another. Additionally, this area will be used for public debates and events. At set times in the Chamber, visitors will hear a debate and vote on a bill currently pending before the Senate. At other times an educational simulation of the United States Senate where up to 100 visitors will take on the roles of senators to study issues, debate, negotiate, and vote on legislation. In some sessions, participants will tackle tough contemporary issues; in others, they will debate historic moments in the Senate’s history.

  • “WHAT IS THE SENATE?” will provide an overview of the distinctive character of the U.S. Senate and the pivotal role it plays in our democracy. THE PEOPLE OF THE SENATE will profile of all of the approximately 2,000 men and women who have served as United States Senators and helped to forge the nation’s history.

  • THE OFFICE OF SENATOR EDWARD M. KENNEDY - a full-scale replica of his Senate office and reception room, featuring historic furnishings, pictures, photos, and artifacts from the Senator’s 47-year tenure in the United States Senate. HOW A BILL BECOMES LAW – a multi- player game in which visitors work together toward the common goal of getting a bill passed.

  • SENATE MILESTONES will feature dynamic, topic-based multimedia timelines recounting major legislative struggles and accomplishments in the Senate across two centuries and more.

  • PEOPLE WHO MADE DIFFERENCE is a portrait gallery that will honor individual citizens who stood up for what they believed and inspired legislative and societal change.

  • THE PLEDGE WALL: WHAT YOU CAN DO will encourage visitors to become more active in the life of community, country, and world – to learn how they can improve and enrich human conditions, close at hand and far away.


Senator Kennedy believed that with an informed and engaged citizenry, America’s best days were still ahead. He believed that “we are all called to a better country and a newer world” – that by learning how our nation’s institutions met the challenges of the past, citizens could better meet and master the challenges of today and tomorrow.

The Edward M. Kennedy Institute embodies the vision that the torch will be passed many times to a new generation – that “the work begins anew” and “the dream lives on.” The Institute aims to be a living, vivid witness and a constant reminder to what colleague and friend Senator John McCain described as Senator Kennedy’s “uncanny sense for when differences could be bridged and [the] cause advanced by degrees.”

For more information about the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate, please visit Follow the Institute on Twitter @emkinstitute.

To see architectural drawings of the building, renderings of the exhibit galleries, and photos of construction in progress, please visit

Press Contact Info

For media inquiries, please contact:


Communications Department