KYW: Planned Franklin Institute Expansion Will Include Brain Exhibit

May 3, 2010

KYW: Planned Franklin Institute Expansion Will Include Brain Exhibit

This may be a no-brainer: the Franklin Institute plans a major expansion starting next year — a three-story addition on the building’s south side that would include a new exhibit devoted to the brain. 

The architectural committee of the Philadelphia Historical Commission on Tuesday approved a 54,000-square-foot addition for the renowned science museum — an expansion of about 15 percent of the museum’s total floor space.  The new wing is to be built on Race Street, west of 20th Street.

This is Institute vice president Richard Rabena:

“One floor (will be) dedicated to an education center, as well as conference space.  The second floor will be dedicated to a brain exhibit and neurological studies.  And the third floor will be dedicated to traveling exhibit space, 10,000 additional square feet, which will be climate-controlled.”

And Rabena says climate control is key since many traveling exhibitions of historical material require those conditions.

“Ten-thousand square feet of climate-controlled space is really an enormous amount of space.  It will allow us to bring in some real quality traveling shows that really don’t go anywhere without the ability to control the climate.”

Rabena says officials have not yet decided if the brain exhibit will include a giant model of a brain, as it has for the museum’s popular human heart exhibit.

The façade of the addition would include a special glass installation that creates a shimmering water-like effect.

The Historical Commission is expected to cast a final vote on the plan within a few weeks.  Further city approvals are needed, but the Franklin Institute hopes for groundbreaking on the $24-million project by next year.

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