Benjamin Franklin’s many gifts to Philadelphia and the nation include free libraries, fire companies lightning rods, bi-focals, and the University of Pennsylvania. The American Philosophical Society, founded in 1743, is perhaps one of his lesser-known gems.
Despite the large statue of Franklin above the main entrance, many people may unknowingly walk right past the centuries-old Society, which is discreetly housed in a neo-classical building in Old City, Philadelphia.
But today's public has access to a museum - just across 5th street - which has, for just over a decade, been the Society's public face, presenting exhibitions and performances that explore the intersections of science and the humanities.
In an exhibition there called Tempus fugit, the Chicago-based conceptual artist Antonia Contro gives a fresh perspective to some of the American Philosophical Society’s holdings by juxtaposing them in a newly created installation that is, as you’ll hear, viewed to a soundtrack of the pages of a book being rapidly fanned.
APS Museum Founding Director Sue Ann Prince says Contro selected the featured objects for their aesthetic and poetic qualities, rather than for their historic significance.
Tempus Fugit runs through December, 2012 and now has an extra dimension - a duet by Nichole Canuso Dance Company Return Return Departure, a commentary on time’s passing commissioned by the APS Museum will be performed in the Garden of the society at sunset, 6 pm on Wednesday and Friday and at sunset on several more dates in the coming weeks.