St. Paul, Minnesota

Nov. 27, 2009 - July 4, 2010
Minnesota History Center

Santa Ana, California

Dec. 16, 2010 – Mar. 13, 2011
Bowers Museum

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Apr. 14, 2011 – July 31, 2011
Heinz History Center

Grand Rapids, Michigan

Sept. 2, 2011 – Jan. 8, 2012
Gerald Ford Museum

Washington, D.C.

Febr. 10, 2012 – May 6, 2012
National Archives

Benjamin Franklin: In Search of a Better World

Exhibit Themes

The exhibit shows how Franklin's astonishing achievements stemmed from his life-long desire to understand and improve the world around him.

Character Matters

1706–1723 explores Franklin's upbringing in early 18th-century Boston, where he was steeped in Puritan teachings and received his training as a printer.

B. Franklin Printer

1723–1748 covers the years when Franklin made his fortune as Philadelphia's premiere printer, and juxtaposes period printing equipment with hands-on activities and multi-media experiences.

Civic Visions

1731–1751 tells the story of Franklin's involvement with the founding of several key philanthropic, educational and civic institutions, including the University of Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania Hospital as well as the nation’s first volunteer fire department, lending library and postal system.

Useful Knowledge

1747–1785 shows scientific instruments of Franklin's time, including a hands-on "Electricity Party" area, developed by the Bakken Museum in Minneapolis..

World Stage

1744–1787 spans Franklin's political career, beginning in colonial Pennsylvania, proceeding to his years in England and France, and concluding with his triumphant return in 1785 to serve in the Constitutional Convention.

Seeing Franklin

1787–Today considers Franklin's legacy, with original versions of several early translations of his "Autobiography," portraits and images of Franklin and quotations from those influenced by him.

*Photos courtesy of the Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary, photography by Graydon Wood