Culture

History buffs and museum lovers, you won't be able to decide what to see first.

397948433257397375-the-franklin-institute-brain-cropped.0.91.665.509.full.jpg

Exhibit at the Franklin Institute

2010_05-Sept-Oct_Curio_02.jpeg

The Wagner Free Institute of Science

Science

The Ben Franklin Parkway hosts more cultural institutions than might fit in your trip. One to be sure to consider is Philadelphia’s most visited museum, The Franklin Institute. For almost 100 years, this science museum has been honoring Ben Franklin’s inventiveness with interactive exhibits, including the ever-popular human heart exhibition and IMAX theater, and current hit devoted to Harry Potter’s wizarding world. Nearby Drexel Academy of Natural Sciences offers towering dinosaur skeletons, mingling with myriad live butterflies, and elaborate dioramas capturing animals and fauna across the planet. For a museum experience like no other, check out the weird and wonderful medical oddities and specimens at The Mutter Museum. You might also consider the Museum of Illusions, a brand-new and entertaining museum with immersive experiences of visual illusions, or the long-standing Science History Institute, dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of the history of chemistry, chemical engineering, and the life sciences, with a permanent exhibit covering 500 years of scientific inquiry and technological advances. Venture to north Philly for the Victorian-era Wagner Free Institute of Science , a natural history museum with over 100,000 fossils, insects, and preserved animals, or the Insectarium/Butterfly Pavilion for an up-close experience of living critters.

History

American History buffs, you’ve come to the right place. Between Independence Hall, Liberty Bell, the National Constitution Center, and the Museum of the American Revolution you will be spoiled for choice. To learn about the contributions of African Americans in the years following our nation’s birth, during the Civil Rights era, or locally, head to the nearby African American Museum. Steps away from Independence Hall, visit America’s first museum, national library, and academy of science, the American Philosophical Society, and their exhibitions highlighting the intersection of science, history and art. Get inspired by Albert Einstein’s pipe or Irving Berlin’s piano when visiting the Only in American/Hall of Fame at the Smithsonian-affiliated Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History. If you’d rather appreciate Philadelphia’s rich history on foot, consider a stroll down the oldest continuously inhabited city in America, ever-charming Elfreth’s Alley, or a historical walking tour. If you’re not sure where to start, head to Philly’s iconic City Hall for tours of its captivating architecture and extensive visitor’s center, to book a tour atop a double decker or a candlelit ghost tour, or to take in our skyline from its observation deck. Need a break? People watch with a coffee outside at Dilworth Park, conveniently located atop a major transit hub.  For a longer historical lens, of course, you can’t beat conference venue, the The Penn Museum.

Independence-Hall-–-Philadelphia.jpeg

Independence Hall

stringio.jpeg

Weitzman  National Museum of American Jewish History

Other

Looking for something different? You can’t get more Philly than the Mummer’s Museum – a celebration of the history and sartorial extravagance of our fine city’s flamboyant New Year’s Day folk parade. Alternatively, explore the city’s quieter, darker history at Eastern State Penitentiary, a radical, ill-fated experiment in prison architecture and philosophy. If literary darkness is more your cup of tea, pay a visit to the Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site. Lighten your mood by visiting the massive collection of maps, musical scores, and rare manuscripts (as well as books) at the gorgeous Parkway Central branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia. To up your booknerd status, pay a visit to bibliophile wonderland, the Rosenbach, where you can view items like James Joyce’s handwritten copy of Ulysses or Lewis Carrol’s own copy of Alice in Wonderland. For wonderfully obscure, boast-worthy urban treasures, Hidden City Philly is your best resource.

DSCN6809-1024x768.jpeg

The Mummers Museum

15penitentiary1-superJumbo.jpeg

Eastern State Penitentiary