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Spark Fun and Curiosity With Your Family at The Franklin Institute
April 6, 2023 By CityPASS
When it comes to making science fun, no museum compares to The Franklin Institute (also referred to as the "Benjamin Franklin museum") in Philadelphia. For almost 200 years, this museum has taught visitors about scientific phenomena and mechanics that, in other contexts, might seem dense or (gasp!) boring. However, rest assured that The Franklin Institute’s innovative exhibits, films, and hands-on experiences are anything but boring. Visitors of all ages will be amazed by how fun and interesting science can be. As Benjamin Franklin (not a founder, but the inspiration behind the museum) once said: "If a man empties his purse into his head, no man can take it away from him. An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest." Time to take Ben’s wise words to heart!
Exhibits at The Franklin Institute
Visitors will relish exploring the 400,000+-square-foot compound filled with fascinating exhibits, The Franklin Institute’s IMAX theater, and two auditoriums (in which various events such as lectures and discussions take place). With so many options at your fingertips, make sure to plan to spend at least a few hours there. Here are the permanent exhibits:
- NOW/NEXT: While NOW/NEXT is a permanent exhibit, the subject matter is always changing. Inspired by emerging trends in both pop culture and science, NOW/NEXT is always focused on what the future holds.
- Tech Studio: Engineering comes alive in this hands-on interactive space. Visitors will learn to think like engineers as they attempt various activities, from building a robotic vehicle to designing an aircraft that promises a safe landing.
- Joel N. Bloom Observatory: Fancy some rooftop stargazing? The observatory at The Franklin Institute offers one of the best spots and equipment in Philadelphia to gaze at the celestial bodies during the day. If you’re lucky, the high-tech instruments may even allow you to catch a glimpse of a solar flare or even the moon.
- Space Command: The final frontier comes alive in this exhibit, where you can touch an ancient meteorite, learn about our neighboring planets, and see centripetal force at work right in front of your eyes.
- The Giant Heart: Perhaps one of the most well-known elements of The Franklin Institute, the Giant Heart is a massive physical reproduction of what keeps every creature on Earth alive. Visitors can walk through the heart’s artery and spend the rest of the time in the 5,000-foot exhibit learning about how this incredible organ functions.
- Your Brain: While computers are getting more advanced each day, they still can’t compete with the astonishing complexity and superior sophistication of the human brain. Learn how your brain pieces together disparate strands of information to allow you to experience "reality," test your brain’s predictive knowledge, and climb through a two-story tall neural network.
- SportsZone: Now’s your chance to release some pent up energy by virtually racing against a seasoned athlete or challenging a friend to a race on a stationary bike with intense virtual terrain. Inside SportsZone, you’ll perfect your baseball pitch, see how an object’s shape impacts a water entry, and learn how a helmet truly protects your noggin.
- The Train Factory: All aboard! Don’t miss the opportunity to clamber onto a 350-ton real Baldwin locomotive and get an insider view on how steam, coal, electricity, and even magnetic levitation enable those hypnotic levers to keep chugging forward.
- Amazing Machine: Have you ever wondered what’s inside a vacuum or other everyday machines? Gaze at "exploded" views of the interiors that illustrate how simple components comprise very complex machinery and try your hand at creating an entirely new machine using available pulleys and gears.
- Sir Isaac’s Loft: Designed with the famed mathematician in mind, this exhibit demonstrates Newton’s principles using prisms, pulleys, and pendulums.
- Changing Earth: Our green planet is never static: tectonic plates shift, volcanoes erupt, and weather patterns continually morph. This sustainably produced exhibit explores all these changes and more.
- The Franklin Air Show: "Fly" to the moon or experience the adrenaline rush of an airborne barrel roll inside the Simulator Experience and learn all about flight-world giants like the Wright brothers and Amelia Earhart in this aviation-focused exhibit.
- Electricity: In this section, you’ll play Benjamin Franklin and experiment with conducting electricity by completing an electric circuit with your body (don’t worry, it’s painless!) and get to peek at real artifacts, like Franklin’s lightning rod. You’ll never take electricity for granted ever again once you learn the science behind it.
Visitors also have the option to partake in live science demonstrations. Watch liquid nitrogen interact in mesmerizing ways with various substances, see a cloud appear in mid-air, and duck for cover as an expert demonstrates how to create an explosion from simple elements. Check the Daily Programs Sheet at The Franklin Institute when you arrive for times and locations.
The Franklin Institute IMAX
Besides the thrilling exhibits, The Franklin Institute is also home to the Tuttleman IMAX Theater. This dome-shaped theater is over 70 feet across and 4.5-stories tall. With more than 50 speakers, you’ll experience science like never before and be face to face with all of the action. Check The Franklin Institute website for the IMAX theater schedule.
The Franklin Institute Tickets & Hours
You can purchase tickets for The Franklin Institute online through the official website or buy them when you arrive at the museum. However, savvy shoppers looking to snag some substantial savings should consider Philadelphia CityPASS® tickets. Along with a deep discount on tickets for The Franklin Institute, CityPASS® ticket holders will also save up to on admission to other exciting Philadelphia hot spots like the Philadelphia Zoo, Eastern State Penitentiary, and more!
Operating hours for The Franklin Institute are available on the official website; make sure to check the schedule ahead of your travel plans so you can pick the best day and time to visit the museum.
The Franklin Institute After Hours
If you’re looking for something fun to do after the museum closes, check out Science After Hours, a 21+ event series that includes experiments, demonstrations, drinks, and games. Each event showcases a new topic or theme, so check the after-hours event schedule for the most up-to-date information. (Note that tickets for Science After Hours is not included in general admission to The Franklin Institute.)
The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia is not just the area’s premier science museum; it’s a channel through which people of all ages and walks of life can experience the mechanisms working frantically "behind the scenes" of ordinary occurrences. You’ll learn the "why" and "how" behind our minds, bodies, and the technology we use each day. It’s an exhilarating experience that will not soon be forgotten.
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