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Philadelphia History Museum facts for kids

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Franklin Institute
Philadelphia History Museum at the Atwater Kent from south.jpg
(2013)
Location 15 S. 7th St.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Built 1825
Architect John Haviland
Architectural style Greek Revival
NRHP reference No. 79002319
Added to NRHP August 1, 1979

The Philadelphia History Museum at the Atwater Kent at 15 South 7th Street between Market and Ranstead Streets in Center City, Philadelphia was founded in 1938 to be Philadelphia's city history museum. The museum occupies architect John Haviland's landmark Greek Revival structure built in 1824–1826 for the Franklin Institute. The Museum operates as a city agency as part of Philadelphia's Department of Recreation.

The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on August 1, 1979.

The Museum closed its doors in June 2018; its future is uncertain.

Founding

The museum was established through the efforts of Philadelphia Mayor S. Davis Wilson, Frances Wistar, president of the Philadelphia Society for the Preservation of Landmarks, and A. Atwater Kent, radio pioneer and inventor. In 1938 Wilson and Wistar approached Kent to purchase the Franklin Institute building, which the Institute had vacated in 1933, and create a history museum for the City of Philadelphia. They were joined in their efforts by the president of the University of Pennsylvania, the director of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, and the president of the Franklin Institute. Kent agreed, and purchased the building as a gift for the city with three conditions: It was to be dedicated to the history of Philadelphia; was to be named for Kent; and be open to the public free of charge. (In 1994, a City Ordinance allowed the museum to charge an admission fee.)

After three years of renovations carried out by the Works Progress Administration, the Atwater Kent Museum was formally dedicated on April 19, 1941.

Collection

Today, the Museum houses more than 80,000 objects related to Philadelphia and regional history, including an estimated 10,000 17th- to 20th-century artifacts from the Historical Society of Pennsylvania art and artifact collection, 1700 Quaker-related items from Friends Historical Association Collection, and collections reflecting Philadelphia manufacturing, the 1876 Centennial Exposition, toys and miniatures, and radio broadcasting. It also houses a collection of 321 The Saturday Evening Post covers illustrated by Norman Rockwell and published in Philadelphia by the Curtis Publishing Company. The museum's main gallery features the world's largest map of Philadelphia.

Highlights from the permanent exhibitions include the boxing gloves of Joe Frazier, the desk of George Washington, a drinking glass owned by Benjamin Franklin, and a wampum belt allegedly given to William Penn by the Lenape.

In August 2011, the museum galleries were closed to the public for ongoing renovations. The museum reopened on September 22, 2012.

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