October 11, 2011
For Immediate Release
For more information contact:
Jane Cowley 215-597-0060
Philadelphia - Two local firms will work to renew the Benjamin Franklin Museum at Franklin Court in Independence National Historical Park. Maltbie has been awarded a $4.7 million contract to fabricate the exhibits. Daniel J. Keating Company has been awarded a $9.54 million construction contract. The museum project will be a complete renovation of the museum between Market and Chestnut and Third and Fourth Streets that opened at the time of the nation's 1976 bicentennial. While the museum's entrance and exhibit space will be entirely redone, the iconic "ghost house" structure and courtyard created by internationally renowned architects Robert Venturi and John Rauch, with Denise Scott Brown, will be preserved.
A groundbreaking event will be held at 10 a.m. on Monday, October 24, 2011. The new museum, which is dedicated to the life and legacy of Benjamin Franklin, will open in 2013.
"Franklin Court is arguably one of the world's significant civic spaces, simultaneously honoring and teaching about Benjamin Franklin and serving as a pleasant passthrough for pedestrians," said Independence NHP Superintendent Cynthia MacLeod. "With the improvements to the museum below ground, we will have a museum that uses 21st century technology and emphasizes the relevance of Franklin's life to us today."
The renovation was made possible through a public-private partnership involving the Pew Charitable Trusts, Gerry Lenfest, the William Penn Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the City of Philadelphia, and the Independence Visitor Center. Funds from these sources more than doubled the funds available through federal dollars from the National Park Service.
"Franklin holds a unique place in the country's history and in its imagination. His story doesn't get old, but it needs to be told well," said Donald Kimelman, managing director of Pew's Philadelphia program. "We're pleased that the rebuilt museum will play that role for generations to come."
Maltbie will be responsible for the fabrication and installation of interpretive exhibits designed by Casson Mann for the Franklin museum. The exhibits will include graphics, audio-visual exhibits and equipment, display cases, furnishings and fixtures. The new museum replaces the 1976 exhibits, award winning in their time but now outdated.
"Having built and installed the original Franklin Court exhibits thirty-five years ago, it is an honor to have been selected to participate in the current renovation," Charles Maltbie, President of Maltbie said.
Daniel J. Keating Company, a general contractor and construction management firm based in Narberth, PA, will be responsible for the complete renewal of the underground structure and entrance area.
"We have worked with the National Park Service on many projects in the past including the restoration of the Deshler Morris-Bringhurst House, Second National Bank, the Merchants Exchange Building and most recently, the Tower at Independence Hall. We feel very fortunate to have been chosen by the National Park Service to build this exciting and unique project at Franklin Court," Pierce J. Keating Chairman of the Daniel J. Keating Company said.
The museum will feature interactive displays exploring his life as a private citizen and statesman through individual, room-like installations. The library is intended to be the culminating experience. Designed to invoke the feeling of Franklin's own library, which included not just books but inventions and gifts from high-ranking friends and colleagues, this room will include an animated feature focusing on Franklin's Autobiography. Other 21st century additions to the underground museum include interactive elements like touch screen kiosks, a computerized version of Franklin's glass armonica a musical instrument employing glass and water to create sound, and two-minute animated vignettes designed to help visitors understand critical turning points in Franklin's life.
Historic artifacts with connections to Franklin will also enrich this museum. In addition to items owned by Independence National Historical Park, public institutions and private individuals will share their Franklin treasures. The objects will illustrate the variety of Franklin's involvement in printing, science, civic institutions and diplomacy. There will also be life portraits of Franklin, his associates and members of his family.
The print shop and other Market Street buildings will remain open to the public throughout the construction, although a construction fence will close off the Chestnut Street entrance to Franklin Court.
Quinn Evans Architects, a top firm with over 20 years experience working on projects for the National Park Service, has completed the final design plan that maintains the integrity of Robert Venturi, John Rauch and Denise Scott Brown's award-winning Franklin Courtyard. British designers Casson Mann are responsible for designing the exhibits and Remer & Talbott, who curated the celebrated traveling exhibition for the Franklin Tercentenary in 2006, are curators and content developers.