Philadelphia, PA -
04/21/2008 - The Franklin, Pennsylvania’s most-visited museum, announced today that it will begin renovations this summer to restore its national monument, The Benjamin Franklin National Memorial. Almost $1.5 million in federal funding from fiscal year 2008 has been directed for memorial restoration, as well as $1 million in funding from The Pew Charitable Trusts and $1 million from the City of Philadelphia’s Cultural Corridors Fund. The announcement is part of The Franklin Institute’s “Inspire Science!” museum renovation efforts, with additional announcements regarding goals and enhancements to be made in the coming weeks. The museum will also create a series of high-tech programming “pathways” through the museum which are inspired by The Franklin Institute’s namesake.
"I am pleased that the Congress has recognized the importance of restoring the Benjamin Franklin National Memorial," Senator Specter said. "This funding for the national landmark will ensure that generations to come can appreciate Franklin's significant contributions to our nation's founding and our scientific community."
“The Franklin Memorial is a national treasure—and a fitting tribute to Philadelphia’s greatest citizen,” said Don Kimelman, Managing Director of the Pew’s Information Initiatives and the Philadelphia Program. “We’re pleased to be contributing to its restoration and to the new interpretive panels that will highlight Franklin’s many achievements.”
“We are proud to be the caretakers of this national memorial, and are excited at the new series of experiences we can provide Philadelphia, all themed to continue the work of Franklin’s great scientific mind,” said Dr. Dennis Wint, President of The Franklin Institute. “We are inspired by his legacy, and look forward to creating a respectful tribute to this amazing man’s work.”
The Benjamin Franklin National Memorial
This summer, The Franklin Institute will undertake the renovation of Franklin Hall, which houses the dramatic thirty-ton white marble statue of Franklin, carved by sculptor James Earl Fraser. The memorial was completed in 1938, and in 1972 the U.S. Congress designated it the official national memorial to Franklin. It is one of the few national memorials under non-governmental ownership. Currently housing exhibits of Philadelphia’s most famous citizen, the renovated memorial will also feature new programming elements – including a multimedia presentation, theatrical lighting, audio effects and graphic panels. The programming will introduce Benjamin Franklin as a curious tinkerer -- and demonstrate his profound impact on the world as a premiere international citizen, statesman, civic leader and scientist. The renovation also involves improved acoustics, as well as a series of lighting upgrades.
This unique new interstitial exhibitry will marry a display of key artifacts from The Franklin’s collections to cutting-edge digital interactivity, further linking the museum experience. Visitors will be immersed in a series of scientific adventures led by the sometimes playful and always iconic thoughts and language of Benjamin Franklin. Major exhibit halls and visitor sites will be thematically linked and connected through this unusual multi-media series, which will include such topics as Energy, Meteorology and Bioscience. For example, the hallway between The Franklin Air Show and Electricity Hall will create a themed transition on the subjects of flight and electricity, using Franklin’s seminal work in both fields as inspiration.
The Franklin has doubled its attendance in the last five years. Upgraded facilities, which range from a re-built heart to a 5,000 square foot store to blockbuster exhibits like Titanic, BodyWorlds and Tut have generated unprecedented attention and audiences. To capitalize on the re-invigorated image of the museum, as well as leverage its core mission of inquiry, The Franklin recently introduced a new logo and an intriguing tagline “Curious?”, playing to public perceptions of The Franklin as a place for excitement, scientific education, adventure and just plain fun.
The Franklin Institute
Increasingly a “go-to” destination, The Franklin is known for blockbuster exhibits, one-of-a-kind theatrical experiences, a growing roster of evening events for adults, and cutting-edge community learning (including a high school partnership with the School District of Philadelphia) with national influence. All are aimed at explaining science in ways that impact on people’s lives. Additionally, the museum’s prestigious Benjamin Franklin Medals and Bower Awards, which honor the greatest men and women of science, engineering, and technology, has achieved international significance in recent years. The Franklin is considered one of the great science centers in the nation and the world – with the ability to present science in an engaging and increasingly interactive setting that creates real-world relevance to the multi-cultural community which The Franklin serves.
Founded in honor of America’s first scientist, Benjamin Franklin, The Franklin Institute is a renowned and innovative leader in the field of science and technology learning, as well as a dynamic center of activity. It is dedicated to creating a passion for science by offering new and exciting access to science and technology in ways that would dazzle and delight its namesake. For more information, please visit www.fi.edu.