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American Philosophical Society Museum

Views of science and humanistic thought at Ben Franklin’s intellectual club

American Philosophical Society Museum

Outside the American Philosophical Society Museum. Credit: Courtesy of the American Philosophical Society Museum


The Experience

Snuggled behind the east wing of Independence Hall is Philosophical Hall, a brick building erected in the late 1780s that was our nation’s first museum, national library and academy of science. Inside the American Philosophical Society Museum, changing exhibitions highlight the intersections of science, history and art. Jefferson’s handwritten copy of the Declaration of Independence and the Lewis and Clark journals are among the important documents, scientific specimens, patent models, portraits, maps, rare books and manuscripts that comprise this remarkable collection.

Across the street, the library is an international center for research in the history of American science, medicine and technology. Rare and unique items on paper are on display on a rotating basis during business hours.


Benjamin Franklin founded the Society in 1743 to promote “useful knowledge.” Today, the Society continues as an eminent scholarly organization of world-wide reputation, renowned for its excellence in scholarly research and publications, its library, its exhibitions and its international roster of elected members who make up a veritable “Who’s Who” of outstanding individuals in the arts, humanities and the sciences.

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