Benjamin Franklin National Memorial
|Benjamin Franklin National Memorial|
|Designated||October 25, 1972|
The Benjamin Franklin National Memorial, located in the rotunda of The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, features a colossal statue of a seated Benjamin Franklin. The 20-foot (6.1 m)-tall memorial, sculpted by James Earle Fraser between 1906 and 1911, honors the writer, inventor, and American statesman. With a weight of 30 short tons (27 t), the statue rests on a 92-short-ton (83 t) pedestal of white Seravezza marble. The statue is the focal piece of the memorial hall, designed by John T. Windrim after the Pantheon, dedicated in 1938.
Congress designated the national memorial on October 25, 1972 (Public Law 92-551). Unlike most national memorials, the statue is not listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The national memorial is an affiliated area of the National Park Service, assigned to Independence National Historical Park through a Memorandum of Agreement entered into on November 6, 1973. Under terms of the agreement, the Institute owns and maintains the publicly accessible memorial, and the Park Service includes the memorial in official publications and otherwise cooperates with the Institute in all appropriate and mutually agreeable ways on behalf of the memorial.
Public Law 109-153 (December 30, 2005) authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to make available to the Institute up to $10,000,000 in matching grants for the rehabilitation of the memorial and for the development of related exhibits. This appropriation commemorates the 300th anniversary of Franklin's birth on January 17, 1706.
In 2008, the Memorial underwent a $3.8-million restoration, which included installation of a multi-media presentation about Philadelphia's most famous citizen, now featured in the 3½-minute show "Benjamin Franklin Forever". The memorial's new digital projection, theatrical lighting, and audio effects are fully utilized in a program that introduces Franklin as a curious tinkerer, and demonstrates his profound impact on the world as a premiere international citizen, statesman, civic leader, and scientist. The refurbishment also included improved acoustics, state-of-the-art LED lighting upgrades, and restoration and re-gilding of the oculus to its original brilliance. Throughout the day, quotes from Franklin are projected onto the walls, and graphic panels highlighting his life and accomplishments provide visitors with a still greater appreciation of this Founding Father.
Admission to the National Memorial is free.
The memorial prominently appears in the movie National Treasure.
- Benjamin Franklin House, in London, England, the only surviving home of Benjamin Franklin, now a museum.
- National Park Service images of Benjamin Franklin National Memorial
- Statement by NPS Dept. Director Durand concerning financial assistance for the Ben. Franklin Nat'l Memorial
- James Earle Fraser biography