- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 9, 2000


The Franklin Institute Science Museum, which includes the Science Center, Mandell Center, Tuttleman Omniverse Theater, Fels Planetarium and the Benjamin Franklin National Memorial, is located at 222 20th St., Philadelphia.


Take Interstate 95 north and get off at exit 17 (Central Philadelphia) onto Route 676 west. Go across town and take the "Benjamin Franklin/Museum Area" exit. Stay in the right lane on the exit ramp; turn right onto 22nd Street. Go one block and turn right onto the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Stay in the right lane. At the next block, turn right onto 21st Street. The next intersection is Winter Street. The parking garage is just past the intersection on the left.


The museum has its own garage and will validate tickets for a reduced rate. Limited three-hour metered parking also is available.


The Science Center is open daily from 9:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. The Mandell Center is open from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and closes at 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.


Adult admission to the museum is $9.75; children 4 to 11 years of age and seniors older than 62 are charged $8.50; children younger than 4 are admitted free. A combined ticket to the museum and an Imax movie is $12.75; a combined children's ticket is $10.50. An Imax ticket alone is $7.50. Tickets to the new 3-D Theatre are $3. Evening admission to the planetarium laser show is $8. A ride on the SkyBike costs $2.


General museum information is 215/448-1200; the Tuttleman Omniverse Theater Hotline is 215/448-1111; Omni Reservations (charge by phone) is 215/448-1254. The Franklin Institute Web site is www.fi.edu.


The museum has a few cafes and snack outlets. Ben's Garden Cafe offers cafeteria-style food and is located near the front entrance. The Milky Way Cafe offers soft drinks and movie snacks, such as pretzels and nachos, and is located outside the Imax theater. Scoops and Slices is located on the first floor of the Science Center and offers drinks, ice cream and pizza. Two lunchrooms give brown-baggers a place to eat in a school-cafeteria atmosphere.


The museum has four gift shops that range from the Discovery Store, where young visitors can bring home inexpensive souvenirs with a science theme (such as a brain-shaped Frisbee), to the Earth and Beyond Store, which offers pricier fare (such as jewelry and telescopes).


The SkyBike lets visitors ride a bicycle across a 1-inch cable suspended 28 feet above the Atrium floor. The attraction opened at the end of last month and is only the second high-wire bicycle in the country. The other one is in California.
The whole family will enjoy the newly opened 3-D Theatre. Parents will marvel at the improvement in the laser-enhanced technology. Children will love the paper 3-D glasses.
An exhibit on aliens and life on other planets will open June 9 and run through Sept. 7. Visitors will receive a cosmic passport for the interactive journey, which includes a sighting of a 20-foot-tall alien.
The Science Park will open on May 27 in a 25,000-square-foot park behind the museum. The fair-weather outdoor fair will allow museum-wary young visitors to learn about science while swinging on swings, playing miniature golf or running through a hide-and-seek tunnel.


Parking is limited, so plan on either an early arrival or a frustrating search for on-street parking.
The museum has plenty of hands-on attractions for everyone in the family, but the massive space can be overwhelming for very small children. Parents can avoid getting lost in the crowds by getting a map from the Web site or requesting that one be sent by mail to plan museum stops.

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