An American Champs-Élysées, the Benjamin Franklin Parkway is home to some of the nation’s most iconic museums and institutions. This lively public space is also the scene of music festivals and the city’s first “Diner en Blanc” pop-up dinner party.
1. The jewel of the city’s cultural world is the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Called the Parthenon on the Parkway, the main building was co-designed in 1907 by prominent architects Julian Abele and Howell Lewis Shay (Abele was the first African American to design a major museum in the nation). There are more than 200 galleries displaying examples of art and craft spanning over 2,000 years of history. It’s also the home of the “Rocky Steps.”
2. A tour of Eastern State Penitentiary is guaranteed to send shivers down your spine. Every year it’s the scene of a fantastic exhibit featuring “haunted attractions;” this year it runs from September 21 to November 10. In the spirit of the French influences in this neighborhood, it’s also host to a Bastille Day fête in July, which means you’ll have to come back for a summer visit.
3. The recently opened Barnes Foundation hosts an amazing collection of impressionist, post-impressionist and early modern art. The newly renovated Rodin Museum has the largest collection of works by sculptor Auguste Rodin outside France.
4. The Parkway Central Library of the Free Library of Philadelphia features one of the world’s biggest public collections of Charles Dickens first editions and personal letters — you can even see Dickens’ stuffed pet raven, Grip. Stop by the Children’s Room for original artwork by famed local son N.C. Wyeth.
5. End your exploration of the Parkway at JFK Plaza, locally known as LOVE Park. And make sure to have your picture taken with Robert Indiana’s LOVE sculpture while you’re there.
You’ll find two important science museums at Logan Square. For child-friendly exhibitions, visit The Franklin Institute. It’s also home of the Benjamin Franklin Memorial and the Tuttleman IMAX Theatre. The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University is the place to learn more about the natural sciences and see specimens of birds, insects, fish, mammals and, of course, dinosaurs.