Fels Planetarium, Franklin Institute Science Museum
On February 5, 1824, Samuel Vaughan Merrick and William H. Keating founded The Franklin Institute of the State of Pennsylvania for the Promotion of the Mechanic Arts. The Franklin Institute’s founding purpose was to honor Benjamin Franklin and advance the usefulness of his inventions. On January 1, 1934, The Franklin Institute Science Museum opened to the public, making it one of the first hands-on science museums in the United States. (The Chicago Museum of Science and Industry opened in phases between 1933 and 1940.) The Franklin Institute’s hands-on approach to science and technology, combined with the Fels Planetarium, made the Institute a popular spot. Today, The Franklin Institute is a vibrant 21st-Century organization that continues to offer new and exciting access to science and technology in ways that would both amaze and delight Mister Benjamin Franklin. The Institute has become a dynamic agent of change through its rich array of internationally recognized exhibitions and programs, lectures and discussions themed to illuminate issues in contemporary science, community outreach initiatives particularly targeted to girls and to urban youth, and its series of innovative partnerships in public education. The Franklin Institute’s universal appeal is reflected in the diversity of its audience—from world famous working scientists to involved citizens of any age; from elementary school through university level students; from inner city to suburban families. All are drawn here by a common interest in science and technology.