Play 100 Classic And Modern Video Games At The Franklin Institute’s Massive New Game Masters Exhibit

No quarters required on this interactive trek through video gaming history from Asteroids to Angry Birds...

Press start on a journey through 40 years of video gaming history and evolution at Game Masters: The Exhibition, a 14,000-square-foot exhibit on display from March 31 to September 3 at The Franklin Institute.


  • Game Masters: The Exhibition runs from March 31 to September 3.
  • More than 100 classic and modern video games are available to play.
  • Attendees can learn the stories behind famous games like SimCity, Sonic the Hedgehog, Rock Band and more.
  • Special events include game-themed Science After Hours events, movie screenings and an opening day celebration.
  • Tickets, which include admission to both Game Masters and the museum, are $30 for adults and $26 for children.

The exhibit features more than 100 playable video games — including arcade and home-gaming classics as well as hands-on experiential games — alongside conceptual art, stories behind famous games, developer interviews and more.

Exhibition Overview

Most people are familiar with gaming’s famous characters: Donkey Kong, Pac-Man, Angry Birds. But who are the people behind these games? And how has the industry progressed from Donkey Kong to Dance Central 3?

Those are the questions answered by Game Masters, a traveling exhibition from the Australian Centre for the Moving Image that’s set up shop in both the Nicholas and Athena Karabots Pavilion and the Mandell Center in The Franklin Insitute.

Upon entry, exhibit-goers find themselves back in the arcade era in the appropriately named Arcade Heroes section. Seventeen playable arcade booths in this area vary from classics (Donkey Kong, Asteroids) to lesser-known works (Scramble, Tower of Druaga), with the history behind each game’s development spelled out on informational plaques nearby.

The second and largest section, Game Changers, focuses on the work of 13 contemporary game developers. It’s here that museum-goers will find home-gaming favorites like Sonic the Hedgehog and The Sims 3, cult classics like Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge, conceptual artwork from developers like Blizzard Entertainment (World of Warcraft) and video interviews with developers and programmers.

People playing Dance Central 3 at Game Masters at The Franklin Institute
(Photo courtesy Mark Ashkanasy)
Game Masters features tons of fun, interactive experiences, including a multiplayer stage for large-scale dance battles of Dance Central 3 (shown).

The third and most-interactive section of the exhibit, Indies, focuses on games like Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja Kinect and Minecraft that were created by independent developers. Highlights are a large-scale version of Dance Central 3, experiential music booths for games of Rock Band and more.

The Franklin Institute has added a final, only-in-Philadelphia section to the exhibit that features daily programming focused on the science behind the gaming. Attendees can test their reaction time, learn about kinetic and potential energy and play life-size Tetris. Visitors can also play a video game developed in-house — featuring a jumping Benjamin Franklin trying to “snag” lightning bolts with his kite — to learn what goes into the coding of both games and controllers.

Programs and Events

The Franklin Institute will celebrate Game Masters’ opening day with GameDay on Saturday, March 31. Attendees can meet local video game developers and check out some of their newest releases, play Tetris on the 20-foot screens in the Ben Franklin National Memorial and snag a photo with Sonic the Hedgehog.

Museum-goers 21 and over can enjoy game-themed programming during two of the attraction’s popular evening Science After Hours events — 8 Bit (July 26) and Clue (July 24) — this summer.

Gamers at Game Masters at The Franklin Institute
(Photo by Mark Ashkanasy)
Which game will you play first? Choose from:

  • Centipede
  • Space Invaders
  • LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4
  • PaRappa the Rapper
  • Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge
  • The Sims 3
  • Virtua Fighter
  • Spore

And the after-hours programming gets taken to the next level during two Movie + Exhibit After Hours events, where adults-only attendees can enjoy three hours of access to Game Masters and a cash bar before a screening of either War Games (June 5) or the 1982 version of Tron (July 3).

Tickets and More

Tickets to Game Masters are now available on The Franklin Institute’s website. Note that access to this exhibition is not included in the price of general admission to the museum.

Tickets to Game Masters for non-member adults are $30 per person and tickets for non-member children (ages 3-11) are $26 per person. The special exhibition tickets include admission to the museum.

Evening admission is also available for guests of this exhibition from Thursdays through Saturdays after 5 p.m. Evening admission is discounted — $20 for adults and $15 for children (ages 3-11) — and does not include general admission to the museum.

Admission to Game Masters is $9 for adult members ($8 for children members) of The Franklin Institute during both daytime and evening hours.

Game on!

Game Masters: The Exhibition

When:March 31-September 3
Where:The Franklin Institute, 222 N. 20th Street
Cost:$30, daytime admission for non-member adults; $26, daytime admission non-member children; $20, evening admission for non-member adults; $15, evening admission for non-member children; $9, members



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