Library Hall (American Philosophical Society Museum)
The APS Museum stages rotating exhibitions of documents, prints, images, books, and objects that capture key moments in American history, art, and science from the days of the Founding Fathers. Each exhibition draws on the APS collections from a different perspective, showcasing treasures such as Thomas Jefferson’s hand-written “Declaration of Independence” and portraits of the Founding Fathers.
Admission is free and visitors explore self-guided. A number of Philadelphia tours pause outside the Georgian-style building on guided walks around the Independence National Historical Park; and hop-on hop-off buses stop near the museum. Other ways to see the exterior of the museum and its nearby Library Hall—home of the APS Library—can include ghost-themed walks that unravel the dark secrets and reputedly haunted sites of the park. Access to the APS Library is limited to visitors with specified and valid research needs.
Things to Know Before You Go
- While there’s no museum entry fee, visitors are encouraged to make donations.
- The museum is wheelchair-accessible, with wheelchair-users asked to enter via the 5th Street entrance.
- The museum has no public restrooms, café, or shop.
- Be ready for security checks before entering.
How to Get There
The APS Museum and APS Library at Library Hall stand on South 5th Street and are easily reachable by foot, bus, or subway. The nearest bus stop is 5th Street- Independence Hall, while the closest subway station is 5th and Market Street on the Market-Frankford Blue Line. While driving isn’t advised, there are several parking garages within a convenient distance.
When to Get There
The APS Museum is open Thursday-Sunday from mid-April through December each year, apart from on public holidays. It’s rarely busy, so you’re almost assured of a quiet environment whenever you visit. The APS Library is open to researchers from Monday to Friday, excepting public holidays.
History and Highlights of the APS Collection
Founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1743, and with an illustrious membership that included Thomas Jefferson, the APS gathered a huge library of materials on American history. Today, the collections span 300,000 books, 13 million manuscripts, and more; and include treasures such as belongings of Franklin, the journals of explorerss Lewis and Clark; and Darwin’s hand-written title page for On the Origin of the Species.
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