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The Philadelphia History Museum at the Atwater Kent

New and improved history near Independence Hall

The Philadelphia History Museum at the Atwater Kent

Experience the city's past at the recently renovated Philadelphia History Museum. Credit: Photo by M. Fischetti for Visit Philadelphia


Experience the city’s past at the recently renovated Philadelphia History Museum. The historic 1826 building, located just around the corner from Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, has been an exciting gateway into Philadelphia History for nearly 70 years.

Guests can enjoy handsomely designed galleries and encounter over 400 objects from the Museum’s vast collection of over 100,000 pieces of history.

Participate in the Philly story like never been through a variety of interactive features—even snap your own digital portrait for use in one of the galleries or online. Plus, see hundreds of priceless objects on display, including the wampum belt that the Lenni Lenape Indians gave to William Penn in 1682.

Don’t miss Experience Philadelphia, the world’s largest map of Philadelphia stretching across an entire gallery floor. In just a few steps, travel from South Philadelphia to Montgomery County and see the ordinary and extraordinary objects and images of city history.


City Stories: An Introduction to Philadelphia
Explore Philadelphia history in first person. Use your mobile device to add your own Philly descriptions via text message and see your descriptions displayed in a visual and dynamic “tag cloud” at the end of the exhibit.

Philadelphia Voices:
How Philly Plays: 115 Years at Smith Memorial Playground
Smith Memorial Playground and Playhouse
has been a beloved destination for children and families since 1899. The exhibition tells the story of Smith and the ever-changing landscape of play in America. Through historic photos, videos, and toys, visitors will experience Smith in fun, engaging, and enlightening ways.
Face to Facebook
Evaluate how portraiture has changed from commissioned paintings of the 18th century to 21st century digital images used to identify ourselves in social media.

The Ordinary, the Extraordinary, and the Unknown: The Power of Objects
Discover treasured pieces of Philadelphia history in this permanent gallery. Objects are separated into four key turning points: the city’s founding in 1682, the American Revolution, Philadelphia’s post-war revival as the Capital City, and the transition from a craft based to an industrial economy through the 20th century.

Played in Philadelphia
Made to be Played
A showcase featuring over 30 radios Philadelphia made and the world played. Presented in recognition of a generous gift of vintage radios from collector Roy Shapiro.

Made in Philadelphia, Gifts that Gleam: Stories in Silver
The exhibition tells the story of how silver has been used by Philadelphians for over three hundred years to recognize achievement, mark important events in individual lives, and express affection and admiration for individuals and deeds. See how the city, its corporations and its well-to-do citizens recognized, honored, and celebrated in the 1700s and 1800s. That was when expensive silver—crafted by Philadelphia’s renowned silversmiths and inscribed with heartfelt messages—was the way to say, “I care, thank you, or congratulations.”


A. Atwater Kent, a wealthy inventor who manufactured early radios in Philadelphia, bought the building, the original home of the Franklin Institute, in 1938. He then gave it to the city to establish a museum dedicated to Philadelphia’s cultural and industrial history.

Kent aimed to celebrate the city’s past and inspire the future. John Haviland, who was also the architect of Eastern State Penitentiary, designed the 1826 Greek Revival building.

Good Kids’ Stuff

Kids love traversing the Delaware Valley in seconds on the world’s largest map of Philadelphia and the region. “Walkabout” worksheets take children to different sites on the map and teach them about the history of the area, as well as basic map reading skills.

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