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April 28, 2021

Franklin Institute plans 200th anniversary capital projects, bringing new exhibits and technology

By 2024, the beloved science museum is set to have six new exhibits and a "reimagined" visitor experience

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Franklin Institute 200th anniversary renovations Courtesy/The Franklin Institute

For its bicentennial, the Franklin Institute is planning a significant capital project to bring in six new exhibits and revamp the visitor experience.

The Franklin Institute will undergo an ambitious capital improvement plan to transform and update its exhibitions in time for its 200th anniversary in 2024. 

The world renowned science museum and Philadelphia landmark received a $1 million gift from Bank of America to help with the makeover ahead of its bicentennial celebration.

The funds will go toward six new thematic exhibition spaces featuring artificial intelligence and biological augmentation, as well as a "reimagination" of the building and visitor experience, the museum announced in a press release. 

With the anniversary three years away, officials said the exact exhibits and roll out dates are still being planned, though the exhibitions will focus on bioscience, space and environmental sciences, among other topics. 

"At a time when science and technology have never been more important in our lives, this is the moment to push boundaries, reimagine what's possible, and begin to rethink the Franklin Institute experience," said Larry Dubinski, CEO of the museum. "We remain incredibly grateful to Bank of America for their belief in our mission, their longstanding partnership and philanthropic support, and their investment in the future of The Franklin Institute."

This news comes as the Franklin Institute prepares to present its 2021 Franklin Institute Award, honoring the brightest minds in science on April 29. The virtual ceremony is sponsored by Bank of America.

"Bank of America has long supported the mission of the Franklin Institute, including this next iteration of the Institute’s offerings and capabilities," said Jim Dever, president of Bank of America Greater Philadelphia. "In the past year, we have experienced the power of technology and innovation in bringing people together during a time when they needed it most. We are confident that this reimagined visitor experience will extend beyond the walls of the Institute and serve as an asset to those in our community and beyond."

The Franklin Institute already has plans to showcase an exhibit commemorating the 100-year anniversary of Walt Disney in 2023, which is set to feature never-before-seen artifacts, illustrations and more. 

The museum recently opened a display called "Crayola IDEAworks: The Creativity Exhibition" in partnership with Crayola. It runs through July 18 and features family-friendly areas with puzzles, innovation and creative problem solving.

The Franklin Institute brought in more than 830,000 visitors in 2019 and saw more than 134,000 visitors in 2020 during the pandemic. So far, just over 34,000 visitors have come through the museum's doors in 2021, and museum officials say they expect an influx of summer visitors.

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