From now until summer—as Philadelphia salutes the 300th birthday of the beloved Founding Father with Benjamin Franklin: In Search of a Better World at the National Constitution Center through April 30th—visitors to the Philadelphia Museum of Art can also experience Franklin’s world with remarkable immediacy through the visual arts. A series of special tours and public programs offer Museum visitors the opportunity to examine Franklin’s life and legacy. From portraits of his prominent political and business associates, to examples of the furniture and wares that would have surrounded Franklin in daily life, these ongoing programs for visitors of all ages combine to paint a textured picture of Franklin’s time, place, and Philadelphia milieu.
“The depth of our collection, and in particular its richness in the era of Revolutionary Philadelphia, provides a journey of the imagination that can enable visitors to make fascinating connections with the life of Benjamin Franklin,” said Museum Guides Administrator Annabelle Pelta.
“The Museum-trained Park House Guides are able to offer fresh insights into colonial Philadelphia, its history and architecture through these specialized presentations,” according to Joyce McNeely, Park House Guides Administrator.
Among the special tours and activities:
- Benjamin Franklin’s World - Daily tours of the collections featuring the art of Benjamin Franklin’s time in Philadelphia, London and Paris. (1 pm, daily, through July 30, 2006)
- Family Guided Tour: Ben Franklin’s America - Designed for parents and children ages six through ten, it explores great works of art of Franklin’s time. (Sunday February 19, 2006 at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.)
- We the Artists - A This self-guided family tour includes a map of the Museum and a list of specifically selected works of art that illuminate the ways that creative Americans shaped our nation. (Available daily through April 30, 2006)
- Through the Eyes of Benjamin Franklin: An Architectural Tour of Philadelphia - The Museum’s Park House Guides take visitors on a tour of buildings and places that Franklin himself would recognize even today. (Every Wednesday from 2:30-3:30 p.m. January 4 through July 26, 2006)
- Drawing Together: American Art - Families will have the opportunity to draw from works of American Art, including objects made in the time of Franklin. (Sunday January 15, 2006 and Sunday January 29, 2006 from 12:00-2:30 p.m.)
- Early Bird Read and Look: Kite Flying by Grace Lin. Preschoolers and their parents will explore the story of one family’s adventure in building a kite. After reading the book and looking at objects, families will make their own kites to take home. (Sunday, March 5, 2006 and Sunday March 19, 2006; 10:15-11:00 a.m.)
- Group Bus Tour of Franklin’s Philadelphia - Visit two historic houses, Woodford and Mt. Pleasant, whose owners were close associates of Benjamin Franklin, followed by lunch at City Tavern, and then tour the places where Franklin would have frequently been found in the city he loved. (Leaves from the Philadelphia Museum of Art; Tuesday through Sunday, April 1, 2006 through August 30, 2006; 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Price is $18 for tour of two houses and city, with lunch).
- In Pursuit of Genius: Jean-Antoine Houdon and the Sculpted Portraits of Benjamin Franklin (May 13–July 30, 2006) - The acclaimed French sculptor’s remarkable bust of Franklin provides the centerpiece for this exhibition that brings together the artist’s numerous versions of Franklin’s likeness in a range of media. Also included will be a selection of intriguing and amusing portraits of the famous Philadelphian by other artists.