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5 Reasons To Visit the Franklin Institute When in Philadelphia

May 22, 2023 By CityPASS

The Franklin Institute is one of the most visited places in Philadelphia and one of the oldest science museums in the United States. The Franklin Institute science museum has both a rich history and exciting, modern exhibits. Are you planning your first trip to the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia? Here's a look at what to expect and why this museum is a must-see for science buffs of all ages.

The Franklin Museum: What Should First Timers Expect?

What is the Franklin Institute? An engineer and a scientist first opened the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1824. The museum was named after Benjamin Franklin and dedicated to his advances in science and electricity. It is a popular destination for both tourists and locals in Center City, Philadelphia.

When you visit the museum for the first time, you will walk through the doors and immediately see the 20-foot marble statue in the center of the Benjamin Franklin National Memorial toward the front of the building. After admiring the memorial, you will enter the museum itself. Here's why this famous spot should be a part of every Philly itinerary.

5 Reasons Why All Science-Lovers Should Visit the Franklin Museum

Not only does the museum offer educational fun on-site, but it even produces online videos and podcasts you can explore from home. For example, The Road to 2050 is a docuseries exploring innovations like jetpacks and teleportation that could become a reality by the year 2050.

The Franklin Institute is also dedicated to hands-on experiences. The museum spans over 400,000 square feet and features a planetarium, an IMAX theater, two large auditoriums, and a myriad of learning displays. It hosts special events, lectures, and workshops, in addition to working closely with the Science Leadership Academy, a local high school.

At the Franklin, you can learn about the human body, the environment, flying, technology, and so much more. Here are the top five reasons to visit.

Interactive Exhibits

The best part of the Franklin Institute in Philly is all the interactive exhibits. At the Amazing Machine exhibit, you can operate a crane machine by hand. After you move blocks around with the crane, you'll want to check out Maillardet's Automaton, a pre-electric robot. This machine, built by a clockmaker around 1800, can write out three poems and four drawings from its "mechanical memory."

Another fascinating interactive experience is Changing Earth. Here, you will learn all about how natural weather systems affect the planet. You can hop on the stream table and build up land and other objects to examine how the water flow adapts to its environment.

Permanent Exhibits

The Franklin's permanent exhibits are a major part of its appeal. One perennial favorite is SportsZone, where you can discover your athletic abilities by running, surfing, jumping, and pitching. In addition, you can view a slow-motion video of yourself to critique your form while learning about health and human fitness.

Another timeless section not to miss is the Giant Heart. This colossal heart exhibit has been a staple of the museum for years. You can walk through the two-story heart and even crawl through its arteries.

If you have a train lover in the group, you must see the Train Factory. Here, you can use your engineering skills on the Baldwin 60000 steam locomotive train that’s been in the museum since 1933.

You should also make time to explore the Tech Studio. This area allows you to see the world of 3D printing up close, including a 3D-printed motorcycle. You can also observe an industrial robotic arm used for large manufacturing projects.

Family-Friendly Exhibits

Sir Isaac’s Loft is a fantastic exhibit for families, designed to showcase Isaac Newton's laws in a fun, engaging way. You can lift yourself using a pulley system while sitting in a gyroscopic chair, for example, or fill a pendulum with sand and watch it trace fascinating patterns. Additionally, you can build trails of dominoes to watch how chain reactions work when the dominoes topple.

Another excellent, family-friendly exhibit is Your Brain. This exhibit shows how the brain works and communicates with other body parts. Kids will enjoy climbing the 18-foot-tall structure and following its pathways. There's also an area with optical illusions to demonstrate how the brain perceives the environment.

Finally, the Fels Planetarium features a large 60-foot-wide dome that lets you explore the night sky and beyond. You can also watch informative shows that take you through the solar system and back to Earth. As one of the oldest planetariums in the United States, the Fels Planetarium uses advanced technology to immerse you and your family into this space exhibit and the stars above.

After-Hour Events

Some of the Franklin Institute events that adults can attend happen after the museum closes for the evening. The Franklin Institute holds nighttime events for adults 21 and over, known as Science After Hours, throughout the year. If you are looking for a unique date night, you can enjoy access to the museum's exhibits in the evening along with fun, themed extras like food, drinks, expert insights, and demonstrations.

Ever-Changing Exhibits: Disney 100 Exhibition

The Franklin Institute's Disney exhibit, "Disney 100: The Exhibition," is on display until August 27, 2023. This premiere exhibition celebrates the Walt Disney Company's 100th birthday.

In this widely praised exhibit, you can browse over 250 memorabilia items from the Walt Disney Archives. Ten different galleries let you dive right into the Disney filmmaking process over the last 100 years, and you're sure to feel the nostalgia as you uncover the script from the first Mickey Mouse movie from 1928.

The Disney Franklin Institute celebration is a magical experience you'll never forget. Tickets can be added to regular admission or purchased separately, but regardless it's important to attend during the time slot noted at the time of purchase.

Explore All the Exciting Possibilities at the Franklin Institute

You can explore everything this museum offers on your next visit to Philadelphia. When you and your family travel to Philly, you can save money on multiple attractions with Philadelphia CityPASS® tickets. Choose 3, 4, or 5 popular attractions and save up to off admission. Check out all your options to enjoy the culture of Philadelphia at The Franklin Institute and other popular city highlights at an incredible price.

Nearby Lodging

To get the most out of your stay in Philadelphia, we recommend finding lodging near Philadelphia's top attractions like The Franklin Institute. Use this map to find the right lodging for you:

Header image Courtesy of The Franklin Institute

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