This paper examines the controversy surrounding the location and proposed interpretive plan for Independence National Historical Park's new pavilion for the Liberty Bell. Written from the perspective of a graduate student and former Independence NHP employee, it attempts to help historians and Park Service employees to better understand each other's positions, and to penetrate to the heart of the issue at stake—the park's own sense of self-understanding and mission. It then moves on to show the relevance of this specific controversy to questions of broader significance, such as the fundamental character of American history, the post–September 11th responsibility of historic sites, the strength of national mythology, and the vital importance of critical public history.

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