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

The Mission

The Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate is dedicated to educating the public about the important role of the Senate in our government, encouraging participatory democracy, invigorating civil discourse, and inspiring the next generation of citizens and leaders to engage in the civic life of their communities.

The Vision

“To preserve our vibrant democracy for future generations, I believe it is critical to have a place where citizens can go to learn first-hand about the Senate’s important role in our system of government.” Senator Edward M. Kennedy

Through innovative, participatory educational programs, exhibits and public events, the EMK Institute brings this vision to life by engaging and connecting the public with the legislative process and how it works. The EMK Institute promotes an appreciation for participatory democracy and civil discourse through programs designed to serve the general public, students at all levels of their education, teachers, scholars, Senators, Senate staff, international visitors and others in public service. These programs include exhibits about the Senate and important issues now facing the Senate and our nation, educational programs to immerse students and the public in the legislative process, and lectures, dialogues, and presentations that reflect the diversity of viewpoints on how to improve our government and our society.

The Institute emphasizes civic education, providing educational programs in history and public policy issues, current and past, as well as in-depth information about the Senate, its history, rules, customs and personalities. These programs emphasize the value of critical skills such as teamwork, leadership, negotiation, compromise, debating, and persuasion.

About our Institute Concept, Design and Production

The Edward M. Kennedy Institute’s concept, design and production are the result of a remarkable collaboration among the Senator, his wife Vicki Reggie Kennedy, and Ed Schlossberg of ESI Design. They worked to accomplish Senator Kennedy’s desire to create a participatory experience where people could see what it was like to be a Senator and act in the best interests of their State and the United States.  Ed and ESI Design developed the ideas to have two main parts - a gallery experience that enabled people to learn about the Senate and a simulation experience that invited visitors to become Senators and work together to pass the bills of a particular day in history.  During the production process, which ESI Design managed with EMK Institute staff, Control Group was brought on for software development, Richard Lewis Media Group for media elements, Electrosonic for our projection technology and Gigantic Mechanic for game mechanics.

About our Innovative Building Design

The Institute’s building was designed by world-renowned architect, Rafael Viñoly. As principal of Rafael Viñoly Architects, he has completed many critically and publicly praised buildings around the world. He is known as an architect of imagination and rigor with a proven capacity to create beloved civic, cultural and institutional spaces. Mr. Viñoly’s projects include the Tokyo International Forum, the Cleveland Museum of Art, and the Abu Dhabi Campus for New York University. The overall site plan for the Institute has been designed to work in harmony with the UMass Boston campus, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, and the Columbia Point waterfront. The facility has been designed and will be operated with sustainability in mind.

The Place

The EMK Institute’s facility is a 68,000 square foot building located on Columbia Point on the campus of the University of Massachusetts Boston (UMass Boston) and adjacent to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. The Institute is also next door to the Massachusetts Archives and Commonwealth Museum, the latter housing the Commonwealth’s original copy of the Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence among many other relevant archival and educational resources. Our neighbors and partners create many opportunities for collaboration and added value for cultural visitors to Columbia Point.

The centerpiece of the EMK Institute is a full-scale representation of the Senate Chamber. Visitors and students participate in experiences and programs giving them insight into and appreciation for the role of the Senate in our participatory democracy. The building also contains a stunning lobby space that welcomes visitors and can be used for events. Three large classrooms with great technological capabilities provide space for educational programs and breakout sessions. Visitors get a glimpse into Senator Kennedy’s career and personality in a faithful reproduction of his longtime Washington, DC Senate office where they see his treasured mementos and learn about the values, people, and ideas he held most dear.