Benjamin Franklin, the great thinker and innovator, was Philadelphia’s first museum patron. Today, his spirit of exploration and curiosity lives on in the dozens of spectacular museums throughout the city. Small and expansive, and historic and modern, every hall and every gallery houses impressive treasures waiting to be discovered. From so many outstanding institutions, here is the short list of our favorites.
Must-See: The Monet collection
Fun Fact: The South Asian Art gallery is the only place in the world outside of India where visitors can see an Indian temple.
The Philadelphia Museum of Art, sitting majestically at the end of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, is one of the city’s most prominent landmarks. Impressive holdings of Renaissance, American, Impressionist, and Modern art make it the third-largest art museum in the United States. Cezanne, Eakins, and Duchamps are just some of the famous names whose works are inside.Don’t forget to snap a picture on the famous Rocky Steps or stop by on a Friday night for an evening of cocktails, art, and entertainment at Art After 5.
2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Must-See: Your Brain exhibit
Fun Fact: The Wright Brothers’ 1911 Model B Flyer, the most-intact Wright Brothers airplane remaining in the world, is housed at the museum.
We’ve already featured this spectacular museum as one of the best in Philly. The Franklin Institute is the heart of science education and research in Philadelphia, and inspires visitors of all ages to learn about science and technology in all forms. Its interactive, innovative exhibits mirror the cleverness of its namesake, Benjamin Franklin, and encourage a spirit of discovery. Among the many exhibits, visitors can learn about sports physics, examine the power of the brain, explore a simulated earth-orbit research station, or understand how electricity is harnessed.
222 N. 20th Street
Must-See: Singers’ Hall, where you can sign the Constitution alongside 42 life-size, bronze statues of the Founding Fathers
Fun Fact: Congress established the Constitution Center so that visitors could learn about those historic events, and provide a non-partisan bias about the Constitution.
It’s no secret that Philadelphia is a city steeped in rich American history. Just across the lawn from the National Constitution Center, the Constitution was crafted and Declaration of Independence was signed. At the Center, the Constitution is explored and explained through high-tech exhibits, artifacts, and interactive displays. As a national and international center for civic education, the Constitution Center also offers exhibitions, theatrical performances, original documents, and seminars.
5252 Arch Street
Must-See: The sphinx, which is 3,200 years old and the third-largest in the world
Fun Fact: The museum has one of the largest collections of African ethnographic and archaeological objects in the country.
In the sprawling galleries of the Penn Museum, you can travel the world without a passport. The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (or Penn Museum, for short) is home to some of the world’s richest and most stunning cultural artifacts. For more than 125 years, the Penn Museum has collected world relics from scientific expeditions. An eclectic collection of treasures from around the world are on display, including Sumerian cuneiform clay tablets, 4,500-year-old jewelry of Queen Pubi’s, ancient Mayan stone monuments, and masks from West Africa.
3260 South Street