And the Frankliniana Collection at The Franklin Institute
The Benjamin Franklin National Memorial is located in the rotunda of Pennsylvania's most-visited museum, The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. The centerpiece of the memorial is a dramatic 20-foot high marble statue of Benjamin Franklin. Sculpted by James Earle Fraser, the statue weighs 30 tons and sits on a 92-ton pedestal of white Seravezza marble. Originally opened in 1938, the rotunda was designed by architect John T. Windrim and modeled after the Pantheon in Rome. It measures 82 feet in length, width and height. The domed ceiling is self-supporting and weighs 1600 tons. The floors, walls, columns, pilasters and cornices are made of rare marbles from Portugal, Italy and France.
Designated by the United States Congress in 1972 as the official national memorial to Franklin, and formally dedicated by then Vice President Nelson A. Rockefeller on April 12, 1976, the Benjamin Franklin National Memorial may be the only National Memorial in private hands. As such, The Franklin Institute receives no government funding, support or assistance from the National Park Service, which administers and oversees other national monuments and memorials.
In 2008 the Memorial underwent a $3.8 million restoration that included the installation of a multi-media presentation about Philadelphia's most famous citizennow featured in the 3 1/2-minute show, Benjamin Franklin Forever. The memorial's new digital projection, theatrical lighting and audio effects are fully utilized in a program that introduces Benjamin Franklin as a curious tinkererand demonstrates his profound impact on the world as a premiere international citizen, statesman, civic leader and scientist. The refurbishment also includes improved acoustics, state-of-the-art LED lighting upgrades and restoring and re-gilding the oculus to its original brilliance. Throughout the day, quotes from Ben Franklin are projected onto the walls, and graphic panels highlighting Franklin's life and accomplishments provide visitors with a still greater appreciation of this Founding Father. The Memorial is open to the public at all times when The Franklin Institute is open and no admission fee is required.
Also noteworthy is The Franklin Institute's Frankliniana Collection, some of which is on rotating display in the Pendulum Staircase. Highlights might include his 1777 Nini Medallion; the maquette of Franklin's bust from the statue of Franklin in the Memorial; the figurehead of Franklin's bust from the USS Franklin; Franklin's Ceremonial Sword used in the Court of King Louis XVI and even the odometer that Ben used to measure the postal routes in Philadelphia. Additionally, the Institute's Electricity exhibition highlights one of Franklin's lightning rods; his Electricity Tube, given to him by Peter Collinson; a Franklin Electrostatic Generator; Franklin's 1751 publication of Observations and Experiments On Electricity...; and Thornton Oakley's two 1940 historical murals of Franklin and the "Kite and Key" experiment.