Electrifying Neglect at Franklin Court

Publication: The Philadelphia Inquirer

Author: Edward Colimore

12/15/2008 - Ben Franklin would be appalled.

The underground museum that tells his story leaks in heavy rain. Last month, water dripped through light fixtures onto ramps and staircases, forcing the site to close for three days.

Displays and exhibits that were state of the art when the Franklin Court museum opened for the nation's Bicentennial are now outdated or out of service after more than three decades of use.

And efforts to reinvent the attraction - announced last year - have hit unforeseen funding delays during the nation's economic downturn. As Ben once said, " 'Tis easy to see, hard to foresee."

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"While the fund-raising from other sources was successful, the federal commitment has not yet come through for the project, despite enthusiastic support from the secretary of the interior, the director of the National Park Service and leadership of Independence National Historical Park," said Donald Kimelman, Pew managing director of information initiatives and the Philadelphia Program.

"Given the long time lag and the pending change in administrations, we are concerned that this project may not go forward. . . . We understand and sympathize with the budgetary pressure in Washington, but remain hopeful that money can be found."

Read the full article Electrifying Neglect at Franklin Court on the Philadelphia Inquirer's Web site.

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