Among all of Benjamin Franklin’s many gifts to Philadelphia and the nation - free libraries, fire companies, lightning rods, bifocals, and the University of Pennsylvania - The American Philosophical Society, founded in 1743, is one of his rarer 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.
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 called Tempus Fugit, (through December 2012) 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, as you’ll hear, is 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.