Pennsylvania Museums and Galleries
222 N. 20th St., Logan Square
Named for Benjamin Franklin, this is one of the country's oldest science museums (the Franklin Institute has been in existence since 1824, and they officially broke ground on the museum in the 1930's). Inside, you'll find a slew of permanent and traveling science exhibits exploring everything from virtual reality to biology to engineering, plus a full IMAX theatre and a recently remodeled planetarium. There's plenty for littles to explore here, but older kids are big fans of their escape rooms, which can be booked in advance.
19 S. 22nd St., Rittenhouse
It's definitely not for the squeamish, but anyone who's a geek about the human body (or a fan of The Nick) is likely to love the Mütter, a museum of medical history run by the Philadelphia College of Musicians since the 1800's. Among the—literal—cabinets of curiosities: the human skull collection of Joseph Hyrtl (which includes more than a hundred specimens), several pieces of Einstein's brain preserved in glass slides, and hundreds of fascinating, if disturbing, antique medical tools and devices.
Philadelphia Museum of Art
2600 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy., West Philadelphia
We should start by saying that yes, those stairs probably look familiar: They’re the Rocky steps, which means you can have your dorky running moment conveniently en route to the third largest art museum in the country. Definitely be sure to check out the museum’s adjacent Rodin collection—partially installed inside a formal French garden, it’s the largest public collection of the sculptor’s work outside of Paris—and it’ll also include The Kiss starting in February 2018.
Please Touch Museum
4231 Avenue of the Republic, Fairmount Park
Besides the fact that this is possibly the best named children museum we've come across, the Please Touch Museum earns brownie points for its stunning 1908 carousel, which is as beautiful as it is entertaining. Founded back in the 1970's by a Montessori educator, PTM targets kids below age seven with tons of interactive exhibits, activities, and kid-sized play spaces. Check the calendar for activities like story time, sing-alongs, and crafts, which happen at designated times daily.
2151 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Logan Square
While many come here for the art (most of which is devoted to the French Impressionist era), this is one of our favorite museums because of its incredibly gorgeous garden. But this is not to overshadow the more than 120 sculptures of artist Auguste Rodin–all of which are incredible. Located along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, the Rodin Museum is a walk away from the Philadelphia Museum of Art, thus making for a perfect, leisure, art-filled afternoon.
The Barnes Foundation Museum
2025 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy., Center City
The Barnes Collection was originally established in 1922 by Albert Barnes, a Philadelphia businessman who amassed a stunning collection of impressionist, post-impressionist, and early modern paintings—including significant works by Renoir, Cézanne, Matisse, Picasso, and Rousseau. In 2012, Barnes’ namesake foundation opened a stunning new campus building that devotes 93,000 square feet to storage, conservation, education, and exhibition space, which makes his stunning collection more accessible than ever. There’s no excuse for missing the downtown building if you’re staying in city center, but if time allows, make the trek to their suburban campus in Merion, which boasts a gorgeous arboretum.
The National Constitution Center
525 Arch St., Center City
With a slew of interactive exhibits that make it a kid-worthy destination, this essential museum delivers on its promise of educating, and offering an engaging dialogue about the Constitution. Past exhibits, like Powers of the President, have looked at the nature of executive power under the Constitution as it has been defined through the legacies of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, FDR, and Richard Nixon, alongside lesser-known (but equally important) constitutional legacies. Through December 2017, you can see one of the twelve surviving copies of the Bill of Rights in the feature exhibit, Constituting Liberty.
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