On February 5, 1824, Samuel Vaughan Merrick and William H. Keating founded The Franklin Institute of the State of Pennsylvania for the Promotion of the Mechanic Arts; it opened to the public on January 1, 1934.
Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit the Franklin Institute. One of the major attractions to Philadelphia is its rich culture, history, and art. Naturally, I had to see one of the several museums here that showcased this history and art.
The building spans several acres of land and has a number of entrances. On this day, I visited with a friend, a fellow exchange student from Australia, and after making our way through the main front door, we got our tickets at the ticket counter and began exploring. Going directly north from the entrance, one is ushered into the rotunda that houses the Benjamin Franklin National memorial; its centerpiece is a dramatic 20-foot-high marble statue of Benjamin Franklin and in celebration of Hispanic heritage month, there was a band playing there on this day.
The building has three floors, and since we had entered on the second floor, we began our exploration there. Located here were several exhibits and experiences relating to the Brain, Earth, Electricity, the Giant Heart, amongst others. Each room provided its own unique experience and had many fun activities and interactive sessions. The Brain room had interactive boards where you could fire a model neuron to see how brain cells use such signals to transmit information, a city street filled with illusions, an 18-foot-tall neural climb and so much more.
The Electricity exhibit ushered us into an entirely different space. I recently learned that it is dedicated to the museum’s namesake: Benjamin Franklin. Here, there was so much to see, do and learn, and at every hour on the hour, there is a show of the activation of the Tesla coil. We had arrived the Electricity room at about 1:45pm, so we had to wait a little while for the next hour. The firing up of the tesla coil was quite fun to see, although rather short (maybe this is because I had expected it would go on for a bit). But overall, our wait was worth it.
After that, we went down to the first floor to visit the planetarium. On arriving, we were informed that a show had already begun few minutes ago and thus, the doors could not be reopened. We were told the next opening would be in about half hour time. My friend and I already had a schedule for that day and as it was nearing time to leave, we knew we would not be able to make the next show. We spent the last couple of minutes in the Space exhibit and then back up to the first floor to see the Pendulum Stairs.
Before this day, I had been told by a friend studying at Drexel that although she had been to the institute a couple of times, she had not seen every inch of it. There is undoubtedly so much to see at the Franklin Institute and although we did not get to fully explore all floors and exhibits, I would definitely love to be back here before the year ends.