Science museums in Philadelphia (subway and trolley friendly)
Explore the sciences in the city of brotherly love! Ranging from dinosaur eggs to amputated arms, there are a variety of different things to see and learn about!
Incorporated in 1855 by businessman, philanthropist, and collector William Wagner, the Wagner Free Institute of Science sprang from Wagner’s belief that science education should be accessible to all. The building the institute now occupies was completed in 1865 and was designed by well-known architect, John McArthur Jr., who later designed Philadelphia’s famous city hall. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1990. Today, the institute houses a large natural science museum with over 100,000 specimens as well as an extensive science library with over 45,000 volumes. Wagner’s own collections make up the core of both the museum and library.
The Science History Institute offers exhibits and programs dedicated to preserving the history of chemistry and related sciences such as chemical engineering and the life sciences. Founded in 1982 as the Center for the History of Chemistry and as a collaboration between the University of Pennsylvania and the American Chemical Society, the organization was known as the Chemical Heritage Foundation for many years prior to the merger of that organization with the Life Sciences Foundation. Today, the Science HIstory Institute collects items and stories related to the history of science. In addition to serving as the headquarters of the organization, this building houses a museum, library, archives, conference center, and a research center dedicated to expanding the knowledge and ever-expanding history of the life sciences and chemistry.
The academy was previously known as the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia until 2011, when it became affiliated with Drexel University. It was founded by leading Philadelphia naturalists in 1812 and is the oldest natural science and research institution in the Western Hemisphere. It has been in continuous operation for well over 200 years and its current home, located just across the street from Logan Square, was built in 1876. It is now divided into a public natural history museum and world-class research facility.
Founded in 1824 as the Franklin Institute of the State of Pennsylvania for the Promotion of the Mechanic Arts, the Franklin Institute is one of the oldest centers dedicated to science education and progress in the United States. In the Institute’s founding days, it offered classes on mechanics, engineering, and other such fields of scientific study in order to broaden people’s understanding of and engagement in the sciences. After a century of activity, the Institute became a museum in 1934 in order to expand its vision of promoting the sciences. Today, the Institute still serves that goal as a museum, reaching out to those who wish to learn through exploring exhibits, attending classes, and much more. Additionally, one may find in the museum’s rotunda the Benjamin Franklin National Memorial, which sports a 20-foot-tall marble statue of the scientist and Founding Father.
The Mütter Museum is one of the largest museums of medical history in the world. With specimens including parts of Albert Einstein's brain, the museum entices its audiences with anatomical wonders while instructing its patrons on the history of medicine, medical technology, and treatment.
For more then 125 years, the Penn Museum has sponsored worldwide scientific expeditions which have yielded many of the artifacts on display including Sumerian cuneiform clay tablets (some of the world’s oldest writing), architectural elements from the 3,200-year-old palace of the pharaoh Merenptah, the 4,500-year-old jewelry of Queen Puabi’s from the Mesopotamian Royal Cemetery at Ur (in modern-day Iraq), towering ancient Maya stone monuments and evocative masks from West Africa. Ancient Greek and Italian treasures are presented in a suite of Classical World galleries while other noteworthy galleries include explorations of Africa, Asia, and Central America.