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.
For over 40 years, the curatorial staff of Artist Frame Gallery have been stocking fine display items, art prints, and custom framing materials. A decade ago, interior designer Tena Mancini took over the seasoned establishment, and her keen eye for lively décor has informed the shop ever since. Tena stocks over 4,000 kinds of moulding, which can be used to enshrine unframed art, a fresh diploma, or the first draft of your novel. Influenced by Mancini's professional background, the gallery's diplomats can pay complimentary house- and office-calls to helpfully opine on framing and décor choices.
Belly dancer Amira Mor has tapped finger cymbals for Moroccan royalty and shimmied for the prime minister of Jordan. Her moves can be elegant or sensual: she coached Britney Spears through new routines at the Broadway Dance Center in New York City, and has also choreographed for the New York City Ballet. Her moves have also landed her a role Sex and the City 2 and taken her to Guantanamo Bay, where she led belly dance boot camps for U.S. Marines. “From the moment Mor begins her dance,” a reporter for the Star-Ledger wrote, “there’s no doubt who’s in charge.… She wears a fringed bustier spangled with gold, and, for a skirt, slashes of sparkly fabric that whip away from her body as she spins, which she does in a blur of speed.…”
At Amira Mor International Entertainment Company, anyone interested in belly dancing can benefit from the award-winning dancer's instruction. With the help of fellow dance instructor Stephanie, she teaches groups some traditional Middle Eastern moves, drawing on modern innovations including flashy hip movements and songs about fax machines. Additionally, Amira is a certified fitness instructor, so she can also help students on quests for sculpted abs.
The constant tug-of-war between education and fun finds middle ground inside this Central Jersey children’s museum, as entertaining exhibits and engaging staff members embed knowledge in each young visitor. Young guests can play veterinarian at the Pet Vet Center, read the news and see themselves on television at the TV News Room, or shed light on the complexities of the human body inside a replica doctor’s office outfitted with realistic equipment.
A motorcycle, retired fire engine, and a grounded airplane shows visitors the wonders of mechanized travel in the Varoom!!! Vehicle Showroom, which leads to an enchanted castle outfitted with a wooden drawbridge, a faux moat, and a new level 3 train exhibit. Party rooms manned by helpful staffers merge learning and celebration, and the onsite gift shop coaxes homebound brain building with a selection of scientific toys.
When British Colonel Roger Morris and his wife stumbled upon a piece of unclaimed Manhattan hilltop, they knew it would be the ideal spot for their summer home. Built in 1765, the 8,500-square foot Morris-Jumel Mansion—as it's known today—was the centerpiece of an estate that extends more than 130 acres from the Harlem to the Hudson River. Loyal to the British crown, Morris left America during the Revolution; in the fall of 1776, General George Washington used the home as headquarters during the Battle of Harlem Heights.
Today, the mansion offers guided tours of its historic property. After becoming president, Washington returned on July 10, 1790, to dine with cabinet members that included future presidents John Adams and Thomas Jefferson; you can visit the dining room where they ate together. More than 40 years later, in 1833, Aaron Burr got married to Madame Eliza Jumel—the widow of the mansion's second namesake owner, Stephen Jumel—right in the parlor of this estate.
Besides tours, the mansion now hosts rotating exhibits that display everything from period costumes to the axe Washington used to floss his wooden teeth. There are also events throughout the year, from classical and jazz concerts to wine tastings and, once, a lively debate between Burr and Alexander Hamilton scholars.
For more than 30 years, the framing experts at Grove Pointe Frame & Art have preserved valuable and sentimental items for posterity by encasing them within museum-quality frames. Specialists help to choose from more than 4,000 frames and 300 mat samples to create a border that accents any item, from sports jerseys to cryogenically frozen uncles, and complements existing décor. In addition to framing services, Grove Pointe Frame & Art can create custom signs and banners to help customers to promote their own businesses or join street protests of blank picket signs.