The Franklin Institute

One of the oldest and most beloved science museums in the country


The Franklin Institute

Credit: K. Ciappa for GPTMC

The Giant Heart exhibit at the Franklin Insititute

Credit: K. Ciappa for GPTMC


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The Experience

An innovator in designing hands-on exhibits before “interactive” became a buzzword, The Franklin Institute is as clever as its namesake. Its eminently touchable attractions explore science in disciplines ranging from sports to space.

Highlights include The Sports Challenge, which uses virtual-reality technology to illustrate the physics of sports; The Train Factory’s climb-aboard steam engine; Space Command’s simulated earth-orbit research station; a fully equipped weather station; and exhibits on electricity.

Films assume grand proportions on the Tuttleman IMAX Theater’s 79-foot domed screen; galaxies are formed and deep space explored in North America’s second-oldest planetarium, which reopened in 2002, sporting the continent’s most advanced technology. Don’t miss the 3D Theater and the indoor SkyBike.

The History

In 1824, The Franklin Institute opened in Independence Hall to honor Benjamin Franklin and his inventiveness. In 1934, with the construction of the current building and the adjacent Fels Planetarium, it became a hands-on science museum. The IMAX Theater and the Mandell Center were added in 1990. Today, it’s Pennsylvania’s most visited museum. In the museum’s rotunda is the Benjamin Franklin National Memorial, with a 20-foot-tall marble statue of the scientist and Founding Father.

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