The Franklin Institute is one of the oldest and premier centers of science education and development in the country. It was founded in honor of America’s first scientist —Benjamin Franklin. Today, it continues its dedication to public education and creating a passion for science, by offering new and exciting access to science and technology in ways that would dazzle and delight its namesake. In the spirit of inquiry and discovery embodied by Benjamin Franklin, the mission of The Franklin Institute is to inspire a passion for learning about science and technology.
As the most visited museum in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and a top-five tourist destination in the City of Philadelphia, The Franklin Institute is one of the leading science centers in the country and serves as both a prominent educational and cultural resource, and as an anchor of the local economy. Science and technology have the potential to solve some of the most critical issues of our time, to improve our lives, and to inspire our curiosity about the world around us. Every day The Franklin Institute provides resources that help people to connect with science and technology in creative ways that resonate with learners of all ages and backgrounds.
The Institute directly reaches more than a million people each year with informal learning experiences that engage students, adults, and families. Though its historic museum is a central learning space, the Institute has evolved to provide people with educational resources in their own neighborhoods through hands-on activities in classrooms, workshops in libraries, community centers, and other settings, and through ways to interact online. Since 1824, The Franklin Institute has pursued its commitment to making these resources available to as many people as possible throughout the mid-Atlantic region.
In June 2014 the Institute opened a new wing: the 53,000-square-foot Nicholas and Athena Karabots Pavilion houses a STEM education and conference center, a climate-controlled traveling exhibition gallery, and the award-winning permanent exhibit Your Brain, in which visitors can explore neuroscience and their own senses. The new building is LEED-Silver certified thanks to its many energy-saving and “green” features and has received an award from the American Institute of Architects.
Today, the Institute offers 11 permanent exhibits that provide hands-on learning experiences that introduce and reinforce key science concepts in creative and engaging ways. The Institute also hosts renowned traveling exhibits that draw local, national, and international visitors to the museum, such as King Tut, the most visited museum exhibit in the world in 2007, and Body Worlds in 2010. Some of the more recent traveling exhibits include 2018 Vikings: Beyond the Legend, 2017 Terracotta Warriors of the First Emperor, 2016 Jurassic World: The Exhibition, and 2015 Vatican Splendors.
As an American Association of Museums-accredited organization, the Institute holds curatorial collections— particularly those related to Benjamin Franklin and the Wright Brothers—that are considered national treasures.
The nearly 200-year-old Franklin Institute Awards Program is America’s oldest and most prestigious recognition of achievement in science and technology. The list of Franklin Institute laureates reads like a “Who’s Who” in the history of 19th- and 20th-century science, including Alexander Graham Bell, Pierre and Marie Curie, Thomas Edison, Niels Bohr, Max Planck, Albert Einstein, Jane Goodall, and Stephen Hawking. In recent history, the Bower Business Awards have honored entrepreneurs and philanthropists including Fred Kavli, Bill Gates, Michael Dell, and Bill George. To date, 117 Franklin Institute laureates also have been honored with Nobel Prizes.
The Institute also has a suite of education initiatives, including the annual Philadelphia Science Festival.