The Simeone Foundation Museum pays tribute to the evolution of the racing car with more than 60 historical autos on display. Theater-like set designs provide colorful backdrops for a procession of stunning vehicular architecture dating to the industry’s earliest days, such as the 1909 American Underslung, known for its endurance over long distances, and a 1921 Duesenberg racecar, a veteran of that year’s Le Mans competition. Gather ideas for your next living-room pinewood derby as you peep at the museum’s collection, which also includes the 1958 Aston Martin DBR1, 1963 Corvette Grand Sport, 1926 Kissel 8-75 Speedster, and more. The museum also features rotating exhibitions.
As America’s first zoo and current home to more than 1,300 creatures, the Philadelphia Zoo hosts a cavalcade of winged avians, furry friends, aquatic characters, and slithering showboats on 42 sprawling acres. Gauge the ferocity of your roar at the Big Cat Falls, or visit the snow-strewn habitats of polar bears, snow leopards, penguins, and the Cheetos-dusted Amur tigers. Exercise your bipedality over to the primate reserve and speak firsthand with the trainers and conservationists working to save and protect endangered primates worldwide from the violence of video games and reckless taxis. The Philadelphia Zoo also features rides and attractions (at additional costs), allowing revelers to twirl about the Amazon rainforest carousel, paddle the swan boats, or take a ride in the iconic Zooballoon, where, from the comfort of the skies, the bearded pig's questionable facial hair is only turning children’s tears into raindrops.
The Philadelphia Museum of Art houses more than 225,000 objects spanning a jaw-whopping 5,000 years of human history. An extensive permanent collection of both Eastern and Western art includes highlights such as Temple Hall, a full-size, immaculately carved sixteenth-century Hindu temple. Grapple with the challenges of modernity amid the display of twentieth-century New York Dada art, featuring several pieces constructed entirely out of apple-satellite-violet-blargh. Chandelier and chandelier-swinging enthusiasts will enjoy Hanging Around: Modern and Contemporary Lighting from the Permanent Collection, which explores how electricity turned function into fashion (the exhibit ends October 10).
The Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia gives guests a glimpse at artifacts, anatomical specimens, and other one-of-a-kind objects that help give dimension to medicine's rich history, as well as tell some of its most interesting stories. Meander through the diverse displays for an unusual eye feast that includes an assemblage of 2,000 objects once lodged in people's throats, a plaster torso cast of the conjoined twins Chang and Eng, and the tallest publicly displayed skeleton in North America that's not currently playing in the NBA. The museum's curious collection also features the relics of well-known doctors and other health helpers, antique instruments, and preserved pathological treasures, such as a cancerous growth removed from President Grover Cleveland after it spent 18 months masquerading as Secretary of the Navy William C. Whitney. The museum's collection comprises more than 20,000 priceless and often peculiar pieces, with temporary exhibits covering a broad spectrum of subjects as well.
Beneath a towering marble dome sits the 20-foot-high marble statue of Benjamin Franklin. All is quiet—until the multimedia presentation springs to life. Not content with a silent symbol, The Franklin Institute brings its namesake’s story to life with his National Memorial, complete with audio effects and dramatic lighting. Spanning three floors, the Institute gives a voice to human ingenuity—past and future—with hundreds of interactive exhibits, live science shows, a 3D flight simulator, and 4.5-story IMAX theater. Though now filled with a range of space-age attractions, the Institute began with single purpose.
Samuel Vaughan Merrick and William H. Keating established The Franklin Institute in 1824, to honor the life and achievements of Benjamin Franklin. In the following decades, the Institute hosted forward thinkers such as Nikola Tesla, who gave a demonstration on wireless telegraphy in 1893. In 1930, the board decided to expand the space into a new science museum—and raised the funds in 12 days. The museum opened to the public in 1934—and in the same year hosted the first public demonstration of an all-electronic TV system.
The Franklin Institute’s permanent exhibits now include Space Command, which invites visitors to recover an unmanned space probe and examine real astronaut equipment. At Changing Earth, visitors create their own weather patterns, play with steams of water, and build structures that can stand up to earthquakes or all-elephant 5Ks.
At various daily showtimes, the Franklin Theater’s high-contrast screen displays 3D films on animals, earth ecosystems, and human history. In the recently renovated Fels Planetarium audiences witness projections of weather and space spread across a 60-foot seamless aluminum dome.
By most people’s standards, the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University is old — founded in 1812, it’s the oldest natural sciences institution in the Western Hemisphere. But the Academy is a baby compared to the specimens it houses, some of which date back more than 350 million years.
Explorers Stephen Long and Ferdinand Hayden’s series of western wilderness expeditions formed the foundation of the Academy's 18-million-item collection, which it began displaying to the public in 1828. Over the subsequent 60 years, the Academy grew to three times its original size through donations, museum purchases, and daily doses of multivitamins. Now situated at 19th and Benjamin Franklin Parkway, the Academy houses more than 35 dioramas of plants and animals collected during global wildlife expeditions, a live animal center with ceiling-to-floor observation windows, and nearly a hundred mollusk specimens. A tropical garden hosts live butterflies from around the world, while Dinosaur Hall contains skeletal mounts of more than 30 Mesozoic species, including a 42-foot-long T. rex.
Born out of the three core principles of public engagement, collaboration, and design excellence, the Philadelphia Center for Architecture stays true to its founding vision by connecting professionals and community leaders through activities ranging from exhibits and competitions to charitable functions and workshops. The center also reels in a wider audience with public walking tours scheduled in conjunction with the Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia, revealing the secrets of some of the city’s most notable buildings with the help of trained guides. As a chapter of AIA Philadelphia, the center also hosts public forums between architects and community members, promoting dialogue about the importance of sustainable neighborhoods and the need for public spaces dedicated entirely to sack races.