Philadelphia is not only the birthplace of America, but also of American medicine. Home to the nation’s first hospital, medical school, children’s hospital, college of pharmacy, and medical library, Philadelphia is steeped in science history. It’s no wonder that the Brookings Institution has called Philadelphia one of the top “Knowledge Capitals” in the U.S. and Europe.
Explore the oldest natural history museum in the Americas when you dig for dinosaur fossils, stroll among live butterflies, touch live animals and take behind-the-scenes tours. The Academy’s working scientists spend their days focusing on critical global issues in biodiversity, evolution, and environmental science and their research efforts provide accurate, real-time scientific information to the public on environmental and sustainability matters.
The Science History Institute (formerly the Chemical Heritage Foundation) holds an outstanding collection of chemistry-related objects, artwork, photographs, and books, illustrating the impact chemistry and chemistry engineering have had on the modern world.
One of the oldest and premier centers of science education and development in the United States, the Franklin Institute was founded in 1824 and was designed to inspire a passion for science in the spirit and honor of American scientist, Benjamin Franklin. Featuring 12 permanent exhibits (including Your Brain), a giant heart, the Fels Planetarium, an IMAX Theater, and much more, the popular museum provides hands-on learning experiences that introduce and reinforce key science concepts in creative and engaging ways.
Examine a collection of medical oddities, wax models, antique medical equipment, anatomical and pathological specimens at the Mütter Museum. The College of Physicians of Philadelphia was founded in 1787 and is one of the oldest professional medical organizations in the country, providing a place for both medical professionals and the general public to learn about medicine as both a science and as an art.
The nation’s first hospital, founded in 1751 by Benjamin Franklin and Dr. Thomas Bond, offers tours of the historic Pine Building with stops at a 13,000 volume library (home to a preserved seven-pound tumor!) and the oldest surgical amphitheater in the country. Pennsylvania Hospital is part of the University of Pennsylvania, whose medical school was the first in the U.S.
Travel to ancient Egypt, the Bible Lands, Mesopotamia, the Greco-Roman World, Asia, Africa, and the Americas at the world-renowned museum of archaeology and anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania. Penn Museum, the largest university museum in the United States, offers three gallery floors of remarkable art and artifacts including mummies, a 13-ton granite sphinx*, and more.
The Penn Museum has undergone major renovations to dramatically transform its Main Entrance Hall, make its historic building fully accessible to all, add significant visitor amenities, and renovate and add air conditioning to the historic Harrison Auditorium and surrounding galleries. The plans have included the re-installation of most of the 130-year-old Museum’s signature galleries. The suite of new Middle East Galleries is now open, detailing a remarkable 10,000-year old human journey. Nearly 1,200 objects from the Museum’s collections are on display – including world-renowned treasures such as the crowning jewelry of a Sumerian queen from 4,500 years ago, the famed Ram-in-the-Thicket statuette, and one of the oldest known wine vessels in the world.
*The 13-ton granite sphinx has been removed temporarily as the renovations are completed.
For over 50 years, the University City Science Center has supported startups, research, and economic development in the life sciences, healthcare, physical sciences, and emerging technology sectors. By providing resources and programming for any stage of a business’s lifecycle, the Science Center helps entrepreneurs and innovators move their ideas and technologies out of the lab, the workshop or the garage, and into the marketplace where they can make a difference.
Founded in 1855, the Wagner Free Institute of Science is dedicated to providing free public education in science and its evening science courses are in their 158th year, making them the oldest program devoted to free adult education in the United States. The National Historic Landmark building houses more than 100,000 natural history specimens including fossils, shells, minerals and mounted animal skeletons and skins displayed in original wood and glass cabinets.
The Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB) is the official tourism promotion agency for the City of Philadelphia globally.
Updated October 2, 2018