A veritable hotbed of American history, Philadelphia has always been a staple field trip destination for history students. From the Liberty Bell to Independence Hall, there’s no better place to teach kids about democracy than the birthplace of the Constitution itself.
Just because Philly is a favorite field trip destination for the kids, however, doesn’t mean adults can’t enjoy themselves in The City of Brotherly Love. Thinking about booking a trip? This historic yet hip, up-and-coming city has plenty to offer tourists of all ages. Whether you’re chaperoning a school trip or coming to town just for the cheesesteaks, get a taste of American history at these five iconic museums:
1. National Museum of American Jewish History
Spring may be starting but our #FreeFebruary admission is ending in just a few days! Stop by this weekend to take advantage of the offer and discover something new about US history. [📷 by @naylorbrownell] . . #nmajh #americanjewishhistory #americanhistory #historymuseum #jewishmuseum #museum #enneadarchitects #jamespolshek #phillyigers #historicphilly #oldcityphilly #philly #architecture #nationalmuseumofamericanjewishhistory
Founded in 1976, this Smithsonian-affiliated museum seeks to “preserve, explore, and celebrate the history of Jews in America.” Visitors of all religious persuasions are sure to enjoy the museum’s extensive collections, which seek to highlight a diverse array of American experiences. Located right down the street from Independence Hall, this museum explores several chapters of America’s rich and varied history. Don’t forget to check out the NMAJH events calendar — from private screenings to public performances, there’s always something fun on the horizon.
2. University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
Philly may be a great place to learn about American history, but a quick trip to the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology will educate you about a much larger (and longer) chapter in human history.
As the largest university museum in the United States, the Penn Museum boasts an incredible collection of artifacts — from the Granite Sphinx of Ramses II to the Hasanlu Lovers, history buffs are sure to enjoy their time wandering around these multicultural exhibits. The museum itself is also a wonder to behold, featuring the largest unsupported masonry floor-dome in the world, public gardens boasting sculptures by Alexander Stirling Calder, and a koi pond to boot.
3. Mütter Museum
Well before Instagram, people felt the urge to document their everyday experiences. During the six weeks the 1918 influenza pandemic gripped the city, one anonymous Philadelphia resident kept a meticulous scrapbook of news articles recounting public health efforts, counts of the dead, and more. The #SpitSpreadsDeath exhibit team spent some time exploring and discussing this incredible artifact in their January meeting. Learn more at a special panel event next week – link in bio.
If you’re looking for something off the beaten path, nothing is better than a trip to the famously quirky Mütter Museum, which asks its patrons one question: “are you ready to be disturbingly informed?” Marketed as America’s finest museum of medical history, this museum (otherwise known as the Museum of Medical Oddities) is certainly not for the faint of heart, or the faint of stomach. Between its antiquated medical instruments and jars full of body parts, you’re sure to gain a unique perspective at this must-see attraction.
4. The Franklin Institute
It’s The Franklin Institute’s Birthday! On this day in 1824, Samuel Vaughan Merrick and William H. Keating founded The Franklin Institute of the State of Pennsylvania for the Promotion of the Mechanic Arts. The Franklin Institute’s founding purpose was to honor Benjamin Franklin and advance the usefulness of his inventions, and since then The Franklin Institute has played a central, yet constantly evolving, role in meeting the educational needs of America in the fields of science and technology. Happy 193rd Birthday to us! • #FranklinInstitute #PhiladelphiaHistory #WeAre193 #VisitPhilly #Philadelphia #History #Science
With its world-class exhibitions and interactive showcases, The Franklin Institute truly provides fun for all ages. Between its breathtaking planetarium and awe-inspiring 3D theater, the Franklin Institute has everything you could need for an afternoon of education and fun. If you’re searching for some evening entertainment, you can head to one of the Institute’s monthly Science After Hours events. At these gatherings, adults (21+) can sip cocktails while playing games, watching demonstrations, and getting hands-on with science.
5. African American Museum
As the first US museum built to honor the life and works of African Americans, the African American Museum in Philadelphia provides a unique and important historical perspective. Founded in 1976, the museum endeavors to present all angles of the diverse African American experience, from the day-to-day details of modern family life to the Civil Rights Movement. With four beautifully arranged exhibition galleries, you’re sure to learn something new on your tour of African American art, culture, and history.