"The Benjamin Franklin Museum in Old City open this weekend, on Saturday, August 24, with a grand reopening set for September. (Photos by J. Fusco for GPTMC)
It’s official. Ben is back.
Dedicated to the life, times and legacy of Philadelphia’s statesman, inventor and revolutionary, the Benjamin Franklin Museum is set to reopen on Saturday, August 24 following a major two-year revitalization.
As the only museum in the world dedicated to the life, times and legacy of Philadelphia’s extraordinary Founding Father, the Benjamin Franklin Museum brings visitors closer to his genius with a rare, in-depth biographical look at Franklin’s life as a private citizen, diplomat, philosopher and more.
Built next to the site where Franklin actually lived in the mid 1700s, the museum was originally built for the 1976 Bicentennial celebration and is housed underground, beneath Franklin Court.
Starting this weekend, visitors can get an extended preview of the remodeled and revamped Benjamin Franklin Museum. Then, come September, return for grand reopening celebrations.
Read on for a our guide to this awesome addition to the already-engaging attractions of historic Philadelphia.
The story of Benjamin Franklin will once again hold court in Independence National Historic Park. Housed in Franklin Court, the courtyard and steel ghost structure outlining the spot where Franklin’s house once stood, the street-level landmarks have remained on view throughout the renovations.
But now, the ghost structure serves as a grand welcome to the main attraction — the 20,000-square-foot adjacent underground museum. Access to the museum’s main entrance is solely via Franklin Court, and on-street entries to the court are now open on both Market and Chestnut streets. Additionally, the museum is now fully handicapped accessible.
Once inside, Independence National Historic Park rangers welcome visitors to the exhibits, which are beneath street level, as well as a museum store, complete with books and other merchandise related to Franklin and colonial Philadelphia.
The Benjamin Franklin Museum is housed underground, beneath the site of Franklin's original home and the Ghost Structure representing the house. (Photo by J. Fusco for GPTMC)
The Artifacts and Exhibits
With a distinct focus on the personality of the Founding Father, rather than the timeline of his life, the revamped museum features 9500-square-feet of exhibition space.
All-ages displays offer educational and entertaining ways to learn about the 18th century and Franklin, including the Renaissance man’s various roles as a printer, a scientist, a diplomat and a founder of civic institutions.
The primary exhibition space is organized into five main areas, divided by five of Franklin’s standout character traits, including his charm, ambition, self-motivation, curiosity and persuasiveness.
Within each display area visitors can see and engage with an array of more than 45 historical artifacts — from a fossilized Mastodon tooth to a Franklin-invented glass armonica — 30 pretty incredible computer animations, audio and interactive displays, 11 hands-on interactives and more, all exploring Franklin’s life as a private citizen and statesman.
Rounding out the museum is a room intended to evoke Franklin’s library, with a movie-style projection relaying portions of Franklin’s autobiography.
The Benjamin Franklin Museum truly reveals how Franklin embodied the spirit of the 18th century, and also how his ideas are still relevant today.
For more on the museum, see below.
Hours and Admission
Opening weekend, August 24-25, museum admission is free as part of Founder’s Day celebrations.
The museum will be open daily year-round from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and a small fee will be charged for admission, $5 for adults, $2 for children (16 and under).
Timed entry tickets are available at the door and must be purchased on the day of your visit. Advanced reservations are not available, except for organized school groups.
Join in the celebration of this exciting new addition to historic Philadelphia and come away with a better understanding of the ever-relevant historic figure.
Benjamin Franklin Museum
When: Opening Saturday, August 24
Where: Franklin Court, enter through Market or Chestnut Streets, between 3rd and 4th streets
Cost: Free admission August 24-25; Regular admission $5, adults; $2, children
More info: www.nps.gov