This highly interactive and informative museum built on the site that was Benjamin Franklin's first permanent home in Philadelphia is scheduled to reopen in early 2013 following a thorough update and renovation. The new exhibits will combine the latest in touch screen displays and computer-generated animation with a chess set, eyeglasses and other items actually used by this Renaissance man. Franklin's multifaceted roles as scientist and inventor (of bifocals and the lightning
rod), philosopher and writer, savvy politician, and successful businessman, will be represented in various rooms. Franklin, publisher of Poor Richard's Almanac, helped draft the Declaration of Independence and negotiate the peace with Great Britain. He also helped found Pennsylvania Hospital, the University of Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia Contributionship, and the American Philosophical Society.
In the courtyard adjacent to the museum, architect Robert Venturi erected a steel skeleton of Franklin's former home. You can peek through "windows" into cutaways to see wall foundations, outdoor privy wells, and other parts of his home that were uncovered during excavations. At the Market Street side are several houses, now exhibition halls, that Franklin had rented in addition to his main home. In one, you can see how Franklin fireproofed the building: his interest in fireproofing led him to experiment with kite flying and lightning. Here, too, you can find a restoration of a Colonial-era print shop and a post office. Don't forget to get a letter hand-stamped with a ""b. free franklin"" cancellation. These buildings will remain open during the museum's reconstruction.
Oct 19, 2008
A history museum that's good for kids, less essential if you're not. Has some adjacent historic houses, an outline (with some excavations) showing where Franklin's original house was, a few artifacts, and a history exhibit.