- The Washington Times - Friday, October 28, 2005

PHILADELPHIA —The celebration of the 300th anniversary of Benjamin Franklin’s birth is under way, opened by a re-enactment of his arrival in Philadelphia and to continue with next month’s kickoff of a traveling museum exhibit and other events.

“Philly’s Got Benergy” is the tag line for promoting the celebration, which officially started Oct. 9 at an event portraying Franklin’s arrival in Philadelphia as a 17-year-old runaway.

The centerpiece of the plans to celebrate the Jan. 17 anniversary is an exhibit running from Dec. 15 through April 30 at the National Constitution Center, called “Benjamin Franklin: In Search of a Better World.”

“He’s a Founder who still winks at us. He’s the most modern and contemporary of all the Founders,” says Richard Stengel, the center’s president and chief executive.

Mr. Stengel says the exhibit includes a variety of opportunities to learn by doing, including the chance to climb aboard a 25-foot sailboat to learn how Franklin charted the Gulf Stream.

Besides such hands-on displays, the exhibit has more than 250 original Franklin artifacts and more than 40 video animations.

The exhibit will head to museums in St. Louis, Houston, Denver, Atlanta and Paris after appearing in Philadelphia.

Notable in its absence is Boston, where Franklin was born and raised; Boston’s Museum of Science said it could not host the exhibit because it is opening a large “Star Wars” show.

Other events featured as part of the yearlong celebration will include an exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, a specially commissioned work by the Philadelphia Orchestra and a special performance by the Philadelphia Ballet.

Franklin was born Jan. 6, 1706 — but when Britain and its Colonies replaced the old Julian calendar with the Gregorian calendar in 1752, time skipped ahead 11 days, making the old Jan. 6 the new Jan. 17.

The celebration is being led by the Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary, a consortium including the American Philosophical Society, the Franklin Institute, the Library Company of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the University of Pennsylvania.

For more information on the Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary, go to www.benfranklin300.org and click on Calendar for a month-by-month listing of events, or call 215/557-0733. Most events take place next year, but some concerts, lectures and exhibits are scheduled for November and December.

At www.ushistory.org/franklin, click on Quick biography for an overview of Franklin’s life and achievements.



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