The Franklin Institute
One of the oldest and most beloved science museums in the country
An innovator in designing hands-on exhibits before “interactive” became a buzzword, The Franklin Institute is as clever as its namesake. Its eminently touchable attractions explore science in disciplines ranging from sports to space.
Highlights include The Sports Challenge, which uses virtual-reality technology to illustrate the physics of sports; The Train Factory’s climb-aboard steam engine; Space Command’s simulated earth-orbit research station; a fully equipped weather station; and exhibits on electricity.
Films assume grand proportions on the Tuttleman IMAX Theater’s 79-foot domed screen; galaxies are formed and deep space explored in North America’s second-oldest planetarium, which reopened in 2002, sporting the continent’s most advanced technology. Don’t miss the 3D Theater and the indoor SkyBike.
In October 2015, The Franklin Institute opened SportsZone, a brand-spankin’-new exhibit dedicated to the science of sports.
Designed around the theme “Ready? Set. Go!”, this immersive, 3,600-square-foot exhibition features a series of 21 interactive experiences, each focusing on a different scientific principle relating to sports.
Innovative displays, advanced media, augmented reality and other high-tech innovations enable guests to truly understand how science, technology and engineering factor into physical activities.
The centerpiece of the exhibition is Athletes in Action, a 40-foot long race challenge where visitors can compete against their choice of “virtual” sports stars ranging from Eagles wide receiver Jordan Matthews to inline speed skater Brian Talley to the fan-favorite Phillie Phanatic.
Visitors can also participate in activities like finding their best surfing stance, learning about the best fluids to drink during exercise, discovering how different materials are used in sporting equipment and understanding how momentum and timing affect the results of a vertical leap.
For more information on SportsZone, click the button below.
Your Brain at the Franklin Institute
Discover what’s going on inside your head at the Franklin Institute’s newest permanent exhibition, Your Brain. The centerpiece of the new Nicholas and Athena Karabots Pavilion expansion, the 8,500-square-foot exhibition is an interactive, high-tech glimpse into the power of the brain.
Fire a neuron and wander amongst the discreet pathways that allow your brain to control the rest of your body. Learn how your brain interprets and analyzes information from the outside world and see how things are not always as they seem on a city street filled with illusions.
Virtual Reality Demonstration Space
The Franklin Institute is the first cultural organization in Philly to incorporate virtual reality (VR) into its exhibit space. In October of 2016, the museum unveiled the world’s most comprehensive, multi-tiered virtual reality museum initiative, which includes an on-site virtual-reality demonstration space and a virtual-reality content library featuring impressive science-based imagery for use via new The Franklin Institute mobile app.
Inside the museum, three core exhibitions — The Giant Heart, Your Brain, and Space Command — will be home to virtual reality experiences of their own and additionally, a special room will be designated as a VR experience space. External to the museum, a free mobile app gives users a VR experience through a curated selection of virtual reality images and videos in the following categories — space, planet earth, human body, technology, physical sciences and history.
Nicholas and Athena Karabots Pavilion
Opened in summer 2014, the Nicholas and Athena Karabots Pavilion is a massive 53,000-square-foot space for permanent and traveling exhibitions.
The dazzling, three-story expansion of the Franklin Institute also holds the spectacular new permanent exhibition, Your Brain – more info above.
On the exterior of the Pavilion you’ll find a Shimmer Wall created by internationally renowned artist Ned Kahn. Composed of 12,500 clear anodized aluminum squares, the Shimmer Wall changes with the wind.
In 1824, The Franklin Institute opened in Independence Hall to honor Benjamin Franklin and his inventiveness. In 1934, with the construction of the current building and the adjacent Fels Planetarium, it became a hands-on science museum. The IMAX Theater and the Mandell Center were added in 1990. Today, it’s Pennsylvania’s most visited museum. In the museum’s rotunda is the Benjamin Franklin National Memorial, with a 20-foot-tall marble statue of the scientist and Founding Father.
Great Kid’s Stuff
Course through the walk-through heart like a human corpuscle; at 15,000 times life size, it’s one of the museum’s first and most popular attractions.
In the neighborhood
1776 Benjamin Franklin Parkway
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