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New Franklin Museum opens

Franklin Museum, courtesy NPS

PHILADELPHIA — The Benjamin Franklin Museum in Independence National Historical Park reopened in September after a two-year renovation project.

Dedicated to the life, times and legacy of Benjamin Franklin, the revitalized museum under the award-winning Franklin Court features personal artifacts, computer animations and interactive display. Five individual rooms reflect different aspects of Franklin’s personality.

Among the items on display are the Franklin family bible, armchairs used in Franklin’s home, copies of the Pennsylvania Gazette and examples of Franklin’s scientific equipment. Original artifacts also reveal Franklin’s involvement in the creation of public institutions such as lending libraries, firefighting companies, the University of Pennsylvania and schools for enslaved children.

An animation titled “At the Cockpit” allows visitors to stand beside a life-size Franklin as he is summoned to appear before the British Privy Council on accusations of inciting riots against the crown. Many historians have viewed this incident as a turning point in Franklin’s opinion toward possible separation from England.

“We intentionally created this museum to generate discussion, to make visitors think about how Franklin embodied the best of the spirit of the 18th century and how his character and ideas are still relevant today,” said Cynthia MacLeod, superintendent of Independence National Historical Park.