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April 17, 2023

'Abbott Elementary' takes a field trip to the Franklin Institute in Season 2 finale

The episode, which premieres Wednesday, was the first in the series to be filmed in Philadelphia

TV Abbott Elementary
Abbott Elementary Franklin Institute Eric Liebowitz/ABC

The 'Abbott Elementary' Season 2 finale, which airs at 9 p.m. Wednesday, was filmed at the Franklin Institute in February.

Many residents in the Philadelphia region look back with nostalgia on school trips to the Franklin Institute. Now, that experience will be depicted on "Abbott Elementary."

The sitcom's cast and crew recently traveled to the renowned museum to film the Season 2 finale, which airs at 9 p.m. Wednesday on ABC. It marked the first time an episode in the Philadelphia-based series had been filmed in the city. 

Along the way, first grade teacher Gregory Eddie (Tyler James Williams), attempts to spend time with Janine Teagues (Quinta Brunson), who seems reluctant to do so, likely due to the complicated nature of their friendship. Principal Ava Coleman(Janelle James) teaches the students about aliens, which leads to extraterrestrial chaos.

"We're just thrilled that we're able to be the location and focus of the season finale," said Larry Dubinski, president and CEO of The Franklin Institute. "'Abbott Elementary' is just an amazing cultural phenomenon. And, for us as an education institution, which gets more school visits than anyone else in Pennsylvania, it's a highlight that we feel really proud and obviously really excited about."

Local viewers will recognize Franklin Institute staples like the giant heart, the train factory and the Ben Franklin Memorial.

abbott elementary franklin institute insideEric Liebowitz/ABC

For the Season 2 finale, 'Abbott Elementary' filmed scenes at the Franklin Institute. It marked the first time the sitcom has filmed in Philadelphia.

The "Abbott Elementary" team reached out to Franklin Institute last fall to explore the possibility of depicting the museum in an episode about a field trip, Dubinski said. He added that he was "thrilled" at the prospect. 

"We're an educational institution; at the heart of what we do is to inspire and educate, especially young people," Dubinski said. "And how this show highlights teachers and their impact on kids is just amazing ... (that) we're able to really highlight what we do in the city, and have that on a national platform, like we will on Wednesday night, it's just absolutely fantastic."

After meetings and tours, the crew filmed the episode in one day in February.

"Obviously, a phenomenal production staff (at 'Abbott Elementary')," Dubinski said. "And then in addition to that, I'm very fortunate to have such a tremendous team (at Franklin Institute) that was able to offer some insight and things that would be helpful as they planned it." 

Abbott Franklin Institute SpaceGilles Mingasson/ABC

Chris Perfetti, who plays Jacob Hill, and Tyler James Williams, who plays Gregory Eddie, appear in an 'Abbott Elementary' scene at the Franklin Institute.

The show's creator, Brunson, discussed what it was like to film an episode in her home town during an appearance last week on "Jimmy Kimmel Live." It turned out that when the "Abbott Elementary" crew landed in Philly, Eagles fans were celebrating a huge playoff win by (what else?) climbing poles.

"It was the first time so much of my crew had been to Philly ... We arrived at our hotel, people have already started climbing the poles in the city, because that's what Philadelphians do," Brunson said. "And my crew was like, 'So this is the city that we're making the show about?' I'm like, 'Yeah this is a good representation.'"

Along with experiencing the Philly flair firsthand, Brunson also spoke to the magic of the museum that she experienced as a grade school student growing up in the city.

"I'm so excited," Brunson said. "We shot at a very famous museum to us Philadelphians called the Franklin Institute ... It's like our Smithsonian. And that's where you go on your field trips. And I was just over the moon that they let us come film there."

abbott elementary franklin institute studentsGilles Mingasson/ABC

Janelle James, left, who plays Principal Ava Coleman on 'Abbott Elementary,' teaches students about aliens in a scene from the Season 2 finale.

Though the Franklin Institute's employees were not a part of the filming, Brunson and Williams met with museum staff. 

"We were able to talk to both of them," Dubinski said. "And it was really wonderful ... (Brunson) is just a phenomenal writer and obviously this series has just captivated the country, right?"

Season 2 of the award-winning series, which has broken viewership records for ABC, began revealing what life outside the classroom is like for the characters. 

Janine's strained relationships with her mother (Taraji P. Henson) and sister (Ayo Edibiri) have been put on full display. And the will-they-won't-they relationship between Janine and Gregory has been explored further, with particularly tense moments occurring away from Abbott Elementary, including a near-kiss outside a hookah lounge.

Perhaps viewers will see sparks fly between the pair by the Franklin Institute's iconic Giant Heart.

franklin institute heart abbott elementaryEric Liebowitz/ABC

Gregory, played by Tyler James Williams, and Janine, played by Quinta Brunson, have had some tense moments in the second season of 'Abbott Elementary.'

The "Franklin Institute" episode isn't the first to show the students and staff of Abbott embarking on a field trip. They went to a fictional version of the Philadelphia Zoo during the Season 1 finale. With the show already renewed for a third season, there's no telling where in Philadelphia "Abbott Elementary" may visit next.

The Season 2 finale of "Abbott Elementary" will be available to stream through Hulu on Thursday.

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