Exploring the Franklin Institute

The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia

“In the Spirit of Inquiry and Discovery embodied by Benjamin Franklin, the mission of The Franklin Institute is to inspire a passion for learning about science and technology.”

The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia

Exploring the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia was a highlight for me when Kayla and I visited the city. We didn’t plan on going to this museum, but I’m thrilled we had the opportunity to visit this cool place. When you enter, you are greeted by a huge statue of Benjamin Franklin sitting on a pedestal. Did you know about all the things he invented besides the lightning rod for electricity? Benjamin Franklin is credited with inventing the iron furnace stove, bifocal glasses, the odometer, and more. It is no wonder that this entire building is dedicated to inspiring you on science and inventions just like it did for Benjamin Franklin.

The Franklin Institute Information

Benjamin Franklin statue in the entrance of the Franklin Institute

The Franklin Institute has three floors of mind-boggling exhibits that will get you excited about science. 12 permanent exhibits offer hands-on learning experiences that introduce and reinforce key science concepts in fun and creative ways. As an adult, it is nice to remember what we learned in science class back in Middle School, and as a child, it is fun to see them learning these concepts for the first time. Who knows, maybe a visit here will spark the desire to be an inventor when they grow up!

Make sure to pick up your Daily Programs & Shows Schedule. This schedule will show you everything to do and see during your visit, including live shows, dissections, 3D printing & more. It helps if you have a pen to circle the times for the shows you want to see so you don’t lose track of time. You will need to purchase tickets online in advance. An adult ticket is $23, and a child (3-11) is $19. The museum is open Wednesdays through Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on the weekends, it stays open until 6 p.m.

Exhibits

Kayla playing with the machines at the Franklin Institute

Depending on how much time you have, choose which exhibits you have to see. My go-to ones are at least one show at the Planetarium and pick at least one live show, then spend the rest of your time exploring the museum. The permanent exhibits include The Giant Heart, Your Brain, The Train Factory, Sir Isaac’s Loft, Amazing Machine, Changing Earth, Space Command, Electricity, Tech Studio, Now/Next, The Holt & Miller Observatory, The Franklin Air Show, and the Sports Zone. If you want to see the new limited-time exhibit Crayola IDEAworks, you will have to buy a separate ticket.

Amazing Machines

Amazing Machines at the Franklin Institute

Machines make our lives easier and are so much a part of our lives that we don’t think about them at all. Have you ever thought about what makes them work? You can see some common machines’ inner workings like a vacuum or a drill that you would find in your home in this exhibit. As an engineer, this was fascinating to see how simple components are assembled in creative ways. I was able to test my engineering skills and used gears, linkages, cams, and pulleys to create a new machine. Even the most ordinary machines were interesting again after seeing how the insides work.

Kayla trying out the gears at the Franklin Institute

The Giant Heart

The Giant Heart at the Franklin Institute

The Giant Heart has been a part of this museum for over half a century. The heart is the size of a 220-foot tall person. Not realistic, but totally cool to experience! You have to go through this exhibit. There is a real beating heart sound within the heart that you can hear while crawling through a giant artery. And yes, I did this!

The Train Factory

Checking out the Baldwin 60,000 locomotive at the Franklin Institute

Within the Train Factory, you can learn how steam and coal powered the first locomotives. Fun exhibits show how diesel, electricity, and magnetic levitation power modern-day trains to travel longer distances faster. You can climb aboard a 350-ton locomotive and pretend you are the train engineer while learning how these big guys move. Toot! Toot! All aboard!

Upcoming Exhibit-100 Years of Walt Disney

I am so geeked about this exhibit coming to Philadelphia! The Franklin Institute was selected to launch the Walt Disney Company’s 100th-anniversary exhibit in February 2023. The show will feature galleries and hundreds of artifacts; some have never been seen from the Disney vaults in a captivating sight and sound environment. The exhibit will showcase the stories and characters from Walt Disney from 1923 to 2023, from Steamboat Willie to Mulan. I can’t wait for this and will so be going to see this exhibit!

Summary

Beautiful stairway and pendulum at the Franklin Institute

Visiting the Franklin Institute is a wonderful experience of science, technology, and fun all under one roof. If you are in Philadelphia, take some time to explore this magnificent museum! You will be all the smarter for it!

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Further Reading

If you are coming to Philadelphia for a visit, check out these posts for extra travel inspiration:

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