|Location||210 Morrissey Boulevard|
Boston, MA 02125
|Type||Specialized, Historical, Biographical|
|Accreditation||American Alliance of Museums|
|Visitors||62,000 visitors per year (this includes about 16,000 students)|
|Founder||Edward M. Kennedy & Victoria Reggie Kennedy|
|President||Mary K. Grant, Ph.D.|
|Public transit access||JFK/UMass JFK/UMass JFK/UMass JFK/UMass|
|Nearest parking||On site (no charge)|
The Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate (also known as the EMK Institute) is a specialty museum and non-profit educational institution on Columbia Point in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts, next to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum on the University of Massachusetts Boston campus. Named for U.S. Senator Edward M. "Ted" Kennedy, the Institute contains a full-scale reproduction of the United States Senate Chamber, a replica of Senator Kennedy's Washington, D.C. office, and digital exhibits. Despite being donated to the Institute in 2012 as part of a "mission of educating the public about the U.S. government, invigorating public discourse, emphasizing the importance of bipartisanship, and inspiring the next generation of citizens and leaders to engage in the public square," the Kennedy Compound was later revealed in 2019 to still have private residence.
The Institute is dedicated to educating the public about the important role of the Senate in the United States 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 .
This exhibit houses the only full-scale reproduction of the United States Senate Chamber. Visitors are encouraged to explore the space with the help of exhibit interpreters and participate in the Institute's signature daily programs, such as Today's Vote and Great Senate Debates.
The exhibit halls feature technology-driven projected displays that immerse visitors in the history of the Senate through exhibits such as What is the Senate?, Traditions of the Senate, and People of the Senate. In addition, the halls include interactive exhibits, such as How a Bill Becomes a Law, where visitors work together to negotiate and select ice cream sundae toppings, vote on bills, override vetoes, and practice the skills needed to guide legislation through Congress.
This exhibit features a full-scale replica of Senator Kennedy's Washington, D.C. office, where visitors, equipped with provided tablets, are able to explore the stories behind pieces of the collection.
The Institute offers a series of public programs and special events hosted in Boston and Washington, D.C. on local and national issues. These programs are open to the public.
The Getting to the Point series convenes individuals with diverse perspectives to discuss current issues and the challenges our government is facing. Getting to the Point takes on various formats from town halls to keynote lectures and panel discussions, and showcases speakers from all walks of life. Since opening, the Institute has hosted a variety of speakers ranging from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, to Congressman John Lewis, to Red Sox Hall of Fame pitcher Pedro Martínez.
This series brings together government leaders with disparate ideologies, from different political parties who are collaborating on a common cause. In moderated discussions, Across the Aisle highlights the type of civil discourse, negotiation, collaboration, and leadership that leads to solutions for pressing problems. The series features members of Congress, governors, mayors, and other elected officials and both national and local issues.
The Edward M. Kennedy Oral History Project, created in partnership with the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia, was released in September, 2015. The project is a compilation of interviews from current and former members of the Senate, House, administration officials, foreign leaders, Senate staff, issue advocates, journalists, family, and friends documenting Senator Kennedy's service. The Institute hosts a speaker series that draws on this resource to highlight current and future national issues before the U.S. Senate.
The Senate Immersion Module (SIM) is a program for middle and high school students that uses negotiation and debate skills to teach about the legislative process. Using high-touch tablets provided by the Institute, groups of students work together to create a bill on a historic issue or a current policy.
In the Future Senators program, visitors age 5-11 years old are introduced to an issue relevant to kids: whether the U.S. government should require a longer school day. The program features a segment from PBS's Fetch! with Ruff Ruffman, includes "experts" for kids to interview, provides time for a debate about what participants learned, and concludes with a voice vote in the full-scale Senate Chamber.
The Institute's facility is a 68,000 square foot (6,317 m2) building designed by Rafael Viñoly, targeting Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) specifications for sustainable building.. Unfortunately, due to value engineering decisions, the building failed to achieve LEED certification as well as suffers from significant HVAC issues due to low visitorship and incorrectly sized equipment. The centerpiece of the Institute is a full-scale recreation of the Senate Chamber. The halls lining the Chamber are known as the Chamber Surround, and feature the majority of the Institute's exhibits. The Institute also features a replica of Senator Kennedy's Washington, D.C. office, a Special Exhibits gallery, an Orientation Theater, and three technologically equipped classrooms for educational programs and breakout sessions. The Institute also includes a café, a gift shop, and a coat check.
The Institute is located on Columbia Point in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts. The Institute is on the campus of the University of Massachusetts Boston, adjacent to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, and next door to the Massachusetts Archives and Commonwealth Museum. The Institute can be reached from nearby Interstate 93 or by taking the Red Line or the Commuter Rail to JFK/UMass station and boarding the free shuttle bus (#1) that drops off in front of the Institute.
The Institute's concept, design, and production are the result of a collaboration between Senator Edward M. Kennedy, his wife Vicki Reggie Kennedy, and Ed Schlossberg of ESI Design. During the production process, Control Group was brought on for software development, Richard Lewis Media Group for media elements, Electrosonic for projection technology, and Gigantic Mechanic for game mechanics.
A groundbreaking ceremony was held on April 8, 2011. The Institute was dedicated by President Barack Obama on March 30, 2015, with Vice President Joe Biden and First Lady Michelle Obama in attendance. The Institute opened to the public on March 31, 2015.
The cost of the museum was $78 million in 2011, with $38 million in federal funding and a $60 million endowment that helps to pay for the $10-12 million annual operating budget of the Institute. As of 2017, admission tickets cost $16 for adults with a $2 discount for Massachusetts residents. In 2017, The Boston Globe reported that ticket sales have been well below the expectations of 100,000 visitors per year, at around 15,000. The Institute is continually revising its business plans in an effort to increase sales, including through more bookings with tour companies and better marketing, but with no notable success to date. Budget cuts, coupled with hefty staff attrition, are used to reduce the operational budget and reduce dependence on endowment principal, the primary funding mechanism to date.
The Institute's current president, Mary K. Grant, Ph.D., assumed leadership in 2018. The Institute was previously led by Dr. Jean F. MacCormack from 2014 to 2017, Andrew Tarsy from 2012 to 2014, and Peter Meade from 2009 to 2012.
In 2012, the Kennedy family donated the main house of the historic Kennedy Compound in Hyannis Port to the Institute, reportedly fulfilling a promise made by Ted Kennedy to his mother, Rose, to donate the house for charitable use. In the process, a sizable tax break was achieved. The Institute released a statement claiming that it hopes to use the house to host educational seminars and other forums, and that it eventually plans to open it to visitation by the public if an agreement between surviving family members and the Joseph P. Kennedy Foundation can be reached. A $4 million grant was promised but was written off after over 4 years of debates.