The American Philosophical Society, founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1743, proudly bears the title of the nation's oldest learned society.  Our founders participated in the birth of American democracy. It pains us greatly that all these years later, our nation's promise has yet to be fulfilled.  We join all Americans of good will in deploring the senseless murder of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police. Over these past months the Society has hosted a number of virtual programs.  Even as we now resume our work with the offering of new programs, our attention remains focused on the senseless loss of innocent lives and our commitment to the difficult, necessary conversations and actions we must all take to begin to ensure that such tragedies end. Read more about virtual programming and resources that can be accessed remotely. Read more about the APS response to COVID-19.

Dr. Franklin, Citizen Scientist

Opening this Spring
104 S. 5th Street Philadelphia, PA 19106

The opening of the 2020 APS exhibition Dr. Franklin, Citizen Scientist, originally scheduled for April 3, will be postponed until it is clear that it is safe to open to the public. 

“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 be open April 3 to December 27, 2020 at the American Philosophical Society Museum.
 

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.