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Dr. Franklin, Citizen Scientist

104 S. 5th Street Philadelphia, PA 19106

We continue to monitor the current public health situation and will open the exhibition in a limited capacity when it is safe to do so, hopefully in 2021. A virtual tour is available now.

“For there is no Rank in Natural Knowledge of equal Dignity and Importance with that of being a good Parent, a good Child, a good Husband, or Wife, a good Neighbour or Friend, a good Subject or Citizen.”

- Benjamin Franklin, 1760 

Taking inspiration from Benjamin Franklin’s commitment to the pursuit of knowledge for the “Benefit of Mankind in General,” Dr. Franklin, Citizen Scientist considers the relationship between science and public life in the 18th-century Atlantic World. The exhibition examines the production, circulation, application, and accessibility of scientific knowledge through the life and work of Benjamin Franklin. Throughout, it highlights lesser-known contributors to the scientific enterprise and the various spaces where science was performed. The exhibition connects Franklin's scientific pursuits to contemporary issues in science and society.

The exhibition draws on the American Philosophical Society Library & Museum’s extensive holdings. Highlights of the exhibition include a first edition of Franklin’s critically important text Experiments and Observations on Electricity, a set of Leyden jars reportedly used by Franklin in his electrical experiments, Franklin’s chart of the Gulf Stream, and the only-known portrait of Deborah Franklin. 

Dr. Franklin, Citizen Scientist will open in 2021 at the American Philosophical Society Museum in a limited capacity when it is safe to do so.

Support for this exhibition was provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Philadelphia Cultural Fund, APS Members and Friends, and donations by visitors to the APS Museum.

Banner image: Portrait of Dr. Franklin, Charles Willson Peale, 1772.