Franklin Court [The Benjamin Franklin Museum]

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Franklin Court [The Benjamin Franklin Museum]

This highly interactive and informative museum built on the site that was Benjamin Franklin's first permanent home in Philadelphia was thoroughly updated and renovated in 2013 and reopened as The Benjamin Franklin Museum. The new exhibits combine the latest in touch-screen displays and computer-generated animation with a chess set, eyeglasses, and other items actually used by this Renaissance man. Franklin's multifaceted roles as scientist and inventor (of bifocals and the lightning rod), philosopher and writer, savvy politician, and successful businessman, are represented in various rooms through the help of interactive displays. Franklin, publisher of Poor Richard's Almanac, helped draft the Declaration of Independence and negotiate the peace with Great Britain. He also helped found Pennsylvania Hospital, the University of Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia Contributionship, and the American Philosophical Society.

In the courtyard adjacent to the museum, architect Robert Venturi erected a steel skeleton of Franklin's former home. You can peek through "windows" into cutaways to see wall foundations, outdoor privy wells, and other parts of his home that were uncovered during excavations. At the Market Street side are several houses, now exhibition halls, that Franklin had rented in addition to his main home. In one, you can see how Franklin fireproofed the building: his interest in fireproofing led him to experiment with kite flying and lightning. Here, too, you can find a restoration of a Colonial-era print shop and a post office. Don't forget to get a letter hand-stamped with a "b. free franklin" cancellation.

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