At the political and intellectual centre of the early history of the American colonies, Philadelphia was the home of the momentum behind radical ideas of social change like the American revolution. Philadelphia exudes history, and maintains a strong cultural focus in modern America. This guide introduces the most interesting and culturally-relevant museums in this fascinating city.
Philadelphia Museum of Arts
Familiar to all fans of "Rocky" - thanks to the famous step-running training scene, the Philadelphia Museum of Art is one of the best fine arts museums in the world. Home to works by great masters like Van Gogh, Monet, Manet, Bosch, El Greco, Turner and many more, this is one of the largest museums in America, home to more than 225,000 objects. As with all of the world's great museums, there is enough stimulation here to occupy several days of visiting. Every Philadelphia tourist should visit there.
The Franklin Institute
The Franklin Institute, created in 1824 by Samuel Vaughn Merrick and William H. Keating, is a national centre for scientific learning and researching. The shadow of its eponymous influence, Benjamin Franklin, is large over the institute which features many displays of Franklin's life and scientific achievements, alongside exhibitions of other scientific breakthroughs and curiosities.
University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology is a must-see for anyone interested in human history and the ancient world. It houses a beautiful collection of Egyptian, Mesopotamian, pre-Columbian Central American and Chinese artefacts. The Egyptian section is renowned as one of the best in the world, and the beauty of its display from the Royal Tombs of Ur is only rivalled in Sumerian archaeology, by the other half of the finds from the Royal Tombs of Ur in the British Museum. Much of the Pennsylvania University's collection was acquired in a deal with the aforementioned Philadelphia Museum of Arts.
Academy of Natural Sciences
A place of international interest, the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia is the oldest museum of the natural sciences in America. Experiencing its 200th birthday in 2012, the academy remains a leading institution in environmental and biological research. After opening public exhibitions in 1828, the academy's collection grew at a phenomenal rate, to the extent that today it maintains large collections of dinosaurs, butterflies, antiquities, sea creatures and historical objects as well as keeping a small zoo, and much more besides.
Other museums and galleries
Although the above four centres are distinguished from the other museums in Philadelphia, those with more time to spend in the city might wish to visit its other notable cultural highlights. These include the Please Touch Museum (which, as the name suggests, features touchable exhibitions designed for kids), the Free Library and the African American Museum in Philadelphia.