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20+ Awesome DNC Events And Exhibitions In Philadelphia 2016

Join the fun during the Democratic National Convention

Philadelphia, the country’s first World Heritage City, is going all out for the Democratic National Convention (DNC).

Museums and attractions throughout the city are embracing the event before, during and after the DNC (which runs from July 25-28).

From the interactive PoliticalFest at seven locations around town to a special “Philly Feast" edition of Night Market to the DNC Rock 'n’ Roll Kickoff at Johnny Brenda’s, events of every kind are set to unfold throughout the end of July.

Read on to discover all of the awesome DNC events and exhibitions in Philadelphia this summer.

Donkeys Around Town

Through September 5, 2016

To celebrate the DNC, 57 decorated Donkeys Around Town have hitched up at interesting spots throughout and just beyond Center City. Each fiberglass animal, fabricated in nearby Chester, PA and decorated by Philadelphia artists affiliated with the Mural Arts Program and, will represent one of 50 U.S. states, one of five territories, Washington, D.C. and Democrats abroad. The donkeys, on view at publicly accessible locations like the Independence Visitor Center, One Liberty Observation Deck and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, furnish great opportunities for home-state selfies.

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July 22-27, 2016

PoliticalFest brings political entertainment to the people, via family-friendly exhibits on politics, government and history at seven city attractions over six days. One ticket gives participants access to all seven locations ($15 adult, $5 ages 17 and under, students and seniors). See below for what each attraction is offering.

  • At the Pennsylvania Convention Center, Politics and You! invites guests to climb aboard the fuselage of Air Force One, interact with C-SPAN exhibits The American Presidents and Electoral Boards, take a selfie behind the desk in an Oval Office replica, add their image to an I Am Democracy photo mosaic and explore the Future Leaders Zone, filled with political fun and games for kids.
  • The National Constitution Center presents Headed to the White House, giving people the scoop on the electoral process, from the moment a candidate announces his/her campaign to the presidential swearing-in ceremony. And don't miss interactive Political Theater, featuring trivia, interviews and panel discussions. Parked outside, C-SPAN’s “Campaign 2016” bus offers a climb-aboard view of the TV journalist life.
  • First Families at the National Liberty Museum displays sets of White House china dating back to George Washington’s tenure, First Ladies’ fashions, POTUS footwear and First Family portraits, and offers special programs provided by the Rendell Center for Civics and Civic Engagement.
  • The Philadelphia History Museum at the Atwater Kent traces the major role the city has played in making of commanders-in-chief through Philadelphia & the Presidency, starring a must-do “whistle-stop” photo op.
  • Founded in 1731 by Benjamin Franklin, the Library Company of Philadelphia, the country’s oldest lending library, will showcase a life mask of George Washington, death mask of Abraham Lincoln, various presidential locks of hair and rare books, graphics and manuscripts about women in American politics and 19th-century African-American political conventions.
  • The Historical Society of Pennsylvania exhibit Founding Documents includes the earliest surviving version of the U.S. Constitution, a Declaration of Independence with a misprint and John Dickinson’s draft of the Articles of Confederation.
  • Last but not least, the Heritage Center at the Union League’s Sweep the Country: Political Conventions in Philadelphia covers the 11 political conventions held in Philadelphia between 1848 and 2000. Videos featuring historians and historic objects, including badges, ribbons and pins, transport visitors to past conventions, complete with celebrations and strife.

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PoliticalFest brings a one-of-a-kind exhibition of our nation's political history to seven locations throughout the city, including the National Constitution Center. (M. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia)

Philly Feast, United We Eat Food Festival

July 25, 2016

Philadelphia’s popular Night Market moves to the daytime — and into Historic Philadelphia — just for the DNC. Philly Feast, United We Eat brings a diverse lineup of food trucks, live music, local vendors and American history for a foodie block party

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Center City Sips — DNC Edition

July 27, 2016

Looking to break a record during the DNC, Philly’s hit Center City Sips happy hour starts in Comcast Plaza, Centre Square and Dilworth Park and then continues in dozens of restaurants and bars. It just might be the biggest Sips ever.

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DNC Passyunk Passeggiata Street Festival

July 27, 2016

South Philly’s vibrant East Passyunk Avenue expands its weekly summer-evening stroll into a DNC Passyunk Passeggiata Street Festival, closing down the byway to cars so pedestrians can roam amid alfresco dining, live music, five DJs and a farmers’ market from early evening until post-convention time.

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Red, white and blue lights on Boathouse How

Boathouse Row, the line of boathouses on the Schuylkill River behind the Philadelphia Museum of Art, will shine with a display of red, white and blue lights in celebration of the DNC starting on Monday, July 25. Though the lights will return to their iconic white on Friday, July 29 after the DNC leaves town, the new upgrade allows the lights to be programmed in an array of colors for special occasions.

boathouse row in red, white and blue

Boathouse Row's new lighting system will shine red, white and blue during the DNC. (R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia)

Political MovieFest at Dilworth Park

July 20-23, 2016

Before the DNC rolls into town, Political MovieFest shows free, alfresco films in Dilworth Park. Movie buffs voted to screen "Selma," "The Manchurian Candidate," "The American President" and "All the President’s Men" on City Hall’s west side. VBefore and during the four-night festival, audience members can avail themselves of refreshments from Brûlée Catering’s Dilworth Park Café and Air Grille, along with treats from Capogiro and Philly Pop Kettle Corn.

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Dilworth park will screen four politically themed movies in antiicpation of the DNC. (Photo by M. Fischetti for Visit Philadelphia)

DNC programming at The Oval

July 25-29, 2016

Head over to The Oval on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway to test your knowledge of presidential trivia during a political Quizzo on July 25 at 7 p.m. The following day, July 26, the pop-up park will host the "Truth Booth," an inflatable video-recording booth that invites visitors to create two-minute videos that begin with the statement, “The truth is...” Throughout the entire DNC, score $1 off all beers at The Oval's beer garden between 5-7 p.m.

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The Oval, the awesome pop-up park on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, has planned some fun programming during the DNC. (M. Fischetti for Visit Philadelphia)

Post DNC Dance Party at South Street Headhouse Shambles

July 29, 2016

After a week filled with politics, the South Street Headhouse District and Society Hill Dance Academy invite you to let loose during an alfresco dance party accompanied by live early jazz age tunes from the BlackBird Society Orchestra. The event is free and open to the public.

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Headhouse Square hosts a free and fun dance party after the DNC is over. (Photo courtesy R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia)

“Politically Enhanced" Reading Terminal Market Tours

July 23-28, 2016

Expanding upon the Reading Terminal Market's Taste of Philly Food tours, daily gatherings during the DNC will explore the fascinating history of the America's oldest farmer's market while also diving into a little presidential trivia. Come learn about what President Obama ate during his 2010 market visit, sample Hillary Clinton's favorite raw jalapeno peppers (if you dare) and more during these food-driven tours, which will also explore the stories behind signature Philly foods. (Think cheesesteaks, hoagies and scrapple, all served at the market.) Tickets can be purchased in advance by clicking the button below.

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Take a politically themed tour of the famous Reading Terminal Market during the DNC. (Photo by R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia)

Caucus and council meetings at the Pennsylvania Convention Center

Through July 28, 2016

Though the official DNC at the Wells Fargo Center isn't open to the public, the DNC caucus and council meetings at the Pennsylvania Convention Center is free for the public to attend. Click the button below for more info, including an official schedule.

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The Pennsylvania Convention Center (pictured above left) is hosting open-to-the-public caucuses and councils during the DNC. (Photo by M. Edlow for Visit Philadelphia)

Arab American Block Party at the Singing Fountain

July 26, 2016

The Arab American Institute and the Philadelphia Host Committee is throwing a neighborhood block party in the heart of East Passyunk in South Philadelphia. The party will be a celebration full of food, culture and entertainment that brings together delegates with the local Philadelphia community.

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DNC Pop-Up Tours from Philly Tour Hub

July 21-31, 2016

During special DNC-inspired tours from Philly Tour Hub, visitors will have the opportunity to explore and learn about historical sites such as America’s first stock exchange, a Quaker house and more. Tour-goers will finish at the Independence Beer Garden for a cold drink just steps away from Independence Hall.

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Wander the streets of Old City with Philly Tour Hub for a DNC-inspired tour. (Photo by M. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia)

Happiness, Liberty, Life? American Art and Politics at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

Through September 18, 2016

In jest to the famous "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" from the Declaration of Independence, Happiness, Liberty, Life? at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts features over 100 works that explore themes of humor, protest and portraiture in both art and politics from the 18th century to the present day. Museum-goers will find both massive cardboard creations of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and other historical greats, as well as more than 25 representations of George and Martha Washington that invite viewers to think about who our nation's Founding Father really was.

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Presidential Archives: Letters, Hair, and Fossils at Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University


The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University dug deep into its 200-plus-year-old collection to create a mini-exhibition for the DNC. Presidential Archives: Letters, Hair, and Fossils showcases the museum’s connections to presidents, including fossils (mammoth, mastodon, sloth) that belonged to Thomas Jefferson, hair samples from George Washington, John Adams, John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson as well as Ulysses S. Grant’s and Thomas Jefferson’s membership cards to the academy.

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Check out real hair from some of the first U.S. presidents at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University. (Photo courtesy Academy of Natural Sciences)

Prisons Today: Questions in the Age of Mass Incarceration at Eastern State Penitentiary


The U.S. tops the list of highest incarceration rates in the world, and in Prisons Today: Questions in the Age of Mass Incarceration, Eastern State Penitentiary presents a display that considers the role of prisons in our nation and the impact of mass incarceration through the present, past and future. The groundbreaking exhibition full of interactive features marks the first time a major museum has initiated a conversation about the effectiveness of the present prison system model in the country.

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A new, interactive exhibition at the Eastern State Penitentiary examines the role of prisons across our nation and the impact of mass incarceration. (Photo courtesy of R. Hashem for Eastern State Penitentiary)

King George Coat of Arms and tours at Christ Church

Through July 28, 2016

For the DNC, Christ Church, where many Founding Fathers worshipped, displays a segment of a coat of arms belonging to King George III, a recreated U.N. Chapel and two presidential letters – one from George Washington to Reverend William White in 1799 to thank him for sending a copy of his sermon and one from Franklin D. Roosevelt to Reverend Felix Kloman to thank him for the creation of a U.N. Chapel in the church.

Grave markers at Christ Church Burial Ground identify the burial sites of Benjamin Franklin, Benjamin Rush and three other signers of the Declaration of Independence. For the convention, historians offer hourly 20-minute tours that highlight the revolutionary contributions of the country’s Founding Mothers, including Deborah Franklin, Julia Rush, Abigail Adams and Martha Washington.

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Both Christ Church and Christ Church Burial Ground are offering DNC- and political-related programming. (Photo courtesy M. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia)

Rare documents at the National Museum of American Jewish History

Through September 11, 2016

Open the entire week of the DNC, the National Museum of American Jewish History shows rare foundational documents demonstrating President Washington’s commitment to religious liberty and equality for citizens of all faiths. On display, the 1790 Letter to a Hebrew Congregation of Newport, Rhode Island and Washington’s nondenominational Thanksgiving Proclamation, 1789. As a bonus: convention attendees receive two-for-one admission and convention volunteers are admitted for free throughout the entire DNC week.

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Check out rare foundational documents at the National Museum of American Jewish History during the DNC. (Photo by M. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia)

Dreams of My Brother: Visions of Obama by Folk and Popular African Artists at Material Culture

July 20 - August 22, 2016

Dreams of My Brother: Visions of Obama by Folk and Popular African Artists is a retrospective exhibition on view at Material Culture of works collected in Africa between 2008 and 2009. Featuring a selection of Obama-inspired art, the exhibition takes a look at the image of our current president by artists throughout Africa using a variety of mediums.

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Material Culture in East Falls will display African artwork depicting President Obama for the rest of the summer. (Photo courtesy Material Culture)

DNC LGBT Welcome Happy Hour

July 27, 2016

LibertyPA, EqualityPA, Liberty City and the Office of Rep. Brian Sims have teamed up to welcome LGBT delegates from around the nation to Philadelphia with a special happy hour at Gayborhood hotspot Woody's. Drink specials will be flowing and food trucks will be set up on 13th Street outside of the bar.

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Come to Woody's for a special DNC happy hour, welcoming LGBT delegates from around the nation. (J. Smith for Visit Philadelphia)

The (Un)Official DNC Rock N' Roll Dance Kick-Off Party at Johnny Brenda’s

July 23, 2016

In honor of both the DNC and the Renegade’s 20th anniversary farewell performance, Johnny Brenda's is creating the ultimate dance party. Kick off your DNC celebrations by boogying down all night at the intimate concert hall and neighborhood bar.

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Johnny Brenda's in Fishtown will host a rocking dance party just before the DNC. (Photo by M. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia)

Arresting Patterns: Perspectives on Race, Criminal Justice, Artistic Expression, and Community at the African American Museum in Philadelphia

Through September 11, 2016

Inspired by recent events stirring racial tension and discussion in America, Arresting Patterns at the African American Museum seeks to uncover the often-overlooked patterns of racial disparity in the U.S. criminal justice system. The exhibition pulls together work from a group of artists whose pieces are tied together through themes of repetition and replication, used to examine intentional and unintentional discrimination in our legal system more closely.

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Arresting Patterns at the African American Museum

Arresting Patterns at the African American Museum explores the often-overlooked patterns of racial disparity that exists within the U.S. criminal justice system. (Photo courtesy of the African American Museum)

Oxymoron No Longer: Innovation and Local Government at The Barnes Foundation

July 28, 2016

Non-profit, non-partisan media organization The Philadelphia Citizen is teaming up with The Barnes Foundation for a special DNC watch party. First, a conversation will be led that invites you to think about the relationship between the government and the governed, featuring a panel of four American mayors who will speak on an array of subjects. The conversation will be followed by a DNC watch party for Hillary Clinton's scheduled acceptance of the democratic nomination.

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Barnes Foundation

The Barnes Foundation in partnership with The Philadelphia Citizen hosts a special DNC Watch Party on July 28. (Photo courtesy T. Crane for the Barnes Foundation)

Juvenile In Justice: End Solitary Confinement at the Free Library of Philadelphia

July 28, 2016

Juvenile In Justice: End Solitary Confinement, on display at the Free Library of Philadelphia's Parkway Central Library, is a collaboration between InLiquid Art + Design and Juvenile Law Center featuring works by internationally renowned artist Richard Ross. Ross has been documenting the incarceration of children in the U.S. for the past eight years in an effort to spark conversation and change.

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Located on Logan Circle along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, the Free Library of Philadelphia hosts a special exhibition featuring artist Richard Ross on July 28.

Truth to Power Art Exhibition and Event Series

July 25-27, 2016

Want to catch a Banksy work up close? You can — in Philly during the DNC. Rock The Vote, a 25-year-old nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to engaging and driving the under-30 voter population, launches its Truth to Power campaign here in Philadelphia, bringing a three-day series of free panels designed to engage and empower young voters, a large-scale art exhibition featuring artists that include Banksy, Shepard Fairey and Keith Haring and a closeout concert with a special surprise performer.

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Billy Penn's DNC Live Fact Check

July 26, 2016

How does the "Truth-O-Meter" rate the numerous statements delivered by American politicians? Come find out during Billy Penn's DNC Live Fact Check, a special event featuring analysis of the DNC with insights from individuals from PolitiFact, an independent fact-checking journalism website. Food, beer and a full coffee bar will be available for attendees to enjoy.

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DNC Dine Dance Shop and Sip

July 26, 2016

Philly's small business community is coming together during the DNC to create a shop-, drink- and dance-filled party at the First District Plaza. Enjoy a drink and bite to eat as you browse from the numerous local vendors for a new getup to wear around town.

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Money in Motion at the Federal Reserve Bank

Everyone handles money, but how does it arrive in people’s wallets? The hands-on Money in Motion exhibit at the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia explains it all, and it's open from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. every day during the DNC. Games invite visitors to “Match Wits with Ben,” and an impressive collection of old and rare currency is on display.

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