Benjamin Franklin National Memorial Philadelphia, Pa. Visited: March 24, 2004 NPS Site Visited: Not an Official Site NPS Affiliate Site Visited: 1 of 28 Local Website
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WHAT IS IT? and BEAUTY (7/10) The Benjamin Franklin National Memorial is an attractive 20-foot tall marble statue of an elderly seated Franklin. It is located under the Rotunda of Memorial Hall in the Franklin Institute. The Rotunda is gorgeous and was modeled after the Pantheon in Rome.
HISTORIC SIGNIFICANCE (3/10) It is just a statue. Nothing in particular happened here. Encased along the wall are a few of Franklin’s original possessions.
CROWDS (4/10) We got there at 9:00 a.m. and had the place to ourselves. We were there, however, a half hour before the Franklin Institute, a superb hands-on science museum, opened. Even as we left, Gab had bad high school flashbacks as a bus of Catholic School children emptied and proceeded to be scolded and herded by a mean-looking nun.
EASE OF USE/ACCESS (2/5) The Franklin Institute is large and located on a main thoroughfare – you won’t miss it. Parking, however, is another issue.
CONCESSIONS/BOOKSTORE (5/5) The Franklin Institute has two dining facilities right at the entrance. The gift shop has 4,500 square feet of retail space. As their website proclaims: “We also celebrate the legacy of the most famous Philadelphian with the largest selection of books, souvenirs, and gifts about Ben Franklin in the area.”
COSTS (3/5) Parking will cost you. The National Memorial is free. The Franklin Institute is relatively inexpensive, $12.75 for an adult, $16.75 with IMAX admission. $10.00 for child, $14.00 for children, and well worth it.
RANGER/GUIDE TO TOURIST RATIO (1/5) The National Park Service does not administer this site. There may be a Franklin Institute guide to answer questions once the Institute is open. We were all alone.
TOURS/CLASSES (2/10) A short repeating audio explanation of Franklin’s possessions is little more than passable.
FUN (4/10) The statue and its setting are very nice. If a trip to the Science Center is included, this number goes up to a 9 or maybe a 10.
WOULD WE RECOMMEND (6/10) Another tricky grade. We think the memorial is stunning and just as impressive in its setting as both the Jefferson Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. The photo ops of good old Ben are just not as dramatic. We would also highly recommend the Franklin Institute, especially if you have kids, based on our past experiences there. The rating, however, is only for the statue, so that is why it is only a 6.
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