Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) accomplished so much in his lifetime that he held a number of titles, including printer and publisher, author, diplomat scientist and inventor. In 1723 he moved to Philadelphia, where he became prosperous and promoted public services in Philadelphia, including a library, a fire department, a hospital, an insurance company, and an academy that became the University of Pennsylvania. His inventions include the Franklin stove and bifocal spectacles—and his experiments helped pioneer the understanding of electricity.
Today, visitors to The Franklin Institute (founded in honor of America’s first scientist) can experience a portion of the scientific phenomenon that intrigued Franklin via two new continuing exhibits entitled, “Changing Earth” and “Electricity.” These complementary and highly interactive exhibits were developed over three years buy the FI exhibition team to help visitors explore the interconnected nature of our lifestyles, technology and environment.
“The opening of ‘Changing Earth’ and ‘Electricity’ completes our ambitious 10-year plan to restore, rebuild or replace each exhibit in the building,” said Dennis Wint, President and CEO of The Franklin Institute.
“Changing Earth” explores the human response to the future of Earth’s transformation. Visitors enter the exhibit through an image of the Earth projected on a fog curtain, as though they are descending on the Earth atmosphere. Once in the exhibit, guests can calculate their own carbon footprint, find solutions to reduce carbon emissions, explore seismographs of recent earthquakes or even create their own weather.
“Electricity” is the exhibit with which FI is most closely identified, as it re-imagines and energizes visitors with interactive devices and graphics illustrated by simple, edgy imagery. Guests can feel the force of electricity by manipulating electrical phenomena, exploring authentic artifacts, and tackling questions of sustainable electricity generation and use.
For some historical perspective, both exhibitions contain artifacts from the Institute’s own collections. Visitors to “Electricity” can brose an electronic copy of Franklin’s “Experiments and Observations in Electricity,” while “Changing Earth” guests can explore objects from FI’s long history with the weather observation.
While exploring the Institute, do take a moment to enjoy ”Benjamin Franklin Forever,” a multi-media presentation about Philadelphia’s most famous citizen. The 3 1/2-minute show is regularly shown at Benjamin Franklin National Memorial in the Institute’s rotunda.
The Memorial—which has a dramatic 20-foot high marble statue of Franklin—is open to the public at all times the Institute is open and no admission fee is required. The Franklin Institute is located 2000 Benjamin Franklin Parkway. For more information, visit www.fi.edu.