By Molly Daly

Philadelphia (CBS) – On February 15th, the long-closed Philadelphia History Museum, formerly known as the Atwater Kent, will unveil two new galleries that mark the first phase of its reopening.

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Admission to the two galleries is free.

“People can come in and get a little taste of history, kind of an appetizer, if you will, preparing for the entree, which is the full opening of the museum this summer.”

Executive Director Charles Croce says the first gallery offers an overview of the city’s 300 year history, using an inventive combination of historic objects and first person narratives from contemporary Philadelphians.

“History is made every day. It’s continually being made. So you have artifacts from 1680, but people are making history today. And the video pieces are meant to add a modern voice to Philadelphia’s history, so it’s asking Philadelphians what’s important in their lives, in their history,” said Croce.

Visitors are also asked to interact with the exhibit by texting words that describe the city to them.

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“You’ll see that some people will say ‘neighborhoods,’ some might say ‘walkable,’ some might say ‘gritty.’ So whatever the word is you use, the more people that will text that in, the word begins to grow on the screen.”

Listen to extended interview:

The second gallery will preview plans for the other six galleries. Right now, Croce says, they include artifacts from the first president, and Smokin’ Joe Frazier.

“We have his boxing gloves from 1970, and juxtaposed right next to that is George Washington’s watch, from 1790. So it’s a very interesting dialogue between what is contemporary and what is quite old.”

The new galleries will be open Wednesday through Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Find out more at

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