American Philosophical Society Museum

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

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Photo by M. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia
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Snuggled behind the east wing of Independence Hall is the American Philosophical Society Museum, a brick building erected in the late 1780s.

The building served as our nation’s first museum, national library and academy of science.

Today, the museum holds rotating exhibitions that 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 can be found within its remarkable collection.

The History

Benjamin Franklin founded the American Philosophical Society in 1743 to promote “useful knowledge” and encourage philosophical discourse.

For more than 270 years, the Society has gathered and preserved a rich collection that traces American history and science from the Founding Fathers to the digital age.

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