Jul 11, 2023 - News

First Bank of the United States to become Philadelphia's newest museum

The First Bank of the United States

The First Bank of the United States is set to get a makeover. Photo: JOKER/Hady Khandani/ullstein bild via Getty

The shuttered First Bank of the United States is poised to become the city’s newest museum when it opens in 2026.

Why it matters: No visitors have passed through the neoclassical building’s massive columns in almost a half-century.

What’s happening: The Independence National Historical Park, which owns the Old City landmark, is aiming to reopen the building as the People, Power and Profit Museum.

  • The project will cost more than $33 million, of which $22 million in federal funding was awarded on Monday.

Between the lines: The timing of reopening the 1790s building will coincide with the 250th anniversary of the nation’s founding.

Renderings of the newly proposed museum inside the First Bank of the U.S.
Take a look at what the new museum inside the First Bank of the United States will look like. Renderings courtesy of the Independence National Historical Park.

Flashback: The building housing the nation’s first central bank last served as a temporary visitors' center leading up to the nation’s bicentennial in 1976 before it was closed.

  • It currently suffers from mechanical issues.

Details: The new museum will showcase the founding of the American economy through five exhibits — land, money, slavery, trade and work.

  • Artifacts from the bank and early economy will be on display, including documents and minted coins.
  • The second floor will be dedicated to temporary exhibits and potentially a space for financial literacy courses.
  • Private rentals at the museum will also be offered.

Plus: The project includes an extension to the building that will include bathrooms and an elevator.

1 cool thing: Visitors will once again be able to see the building’s floor-to-ceiling rotunda with scalloped glass panes, which will be rehabilitated during the project.

What they're saying: "It will complete the original vision of the park to have this building open," Jonathan Burton, development director of Independence Historical Trust, the philanthropic arm to the historical park, tells Axios.

What to watch: The project is on track to begin this month.

A rendering of a newly proposed museum inside the First Bank of the United States
The role of slavery will be a central theme at the new museum. Renderings courtesy of the Independence National Historical Park.
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