Philadelphia science history museum taking new name

The current Chemical Heritage Foundation will become the Science History Institute to reflect its broadening collections and interests.

The Chemical Heritage Foundation will become the Science History Institute on Feb. 1.

The Chemical Heritage Foundation will become the Science History Institute on Feb. 1. (Joel Wolfram/WHYY)

The Chemical Heritage Foundation, the Philadelphia science history museum and research library, will change its name next month to the “Science History Institute.”

The change reflects the Old City museum’s growth after merging with a San Francisco organization dedicated to the life sciences at the end of 2015.

“Our collections and our interests are broadening,” said Robert Anderson, its president and CEO. “We used to be just the Chemical Heritage Foundation because chemistry was what we did.”

Anderson said the history of chemistry, engineering, and the life sciences will remain the organization’s focus, but that the rebranding rolling out Feb. 1 leaves room for expanding to cover even more realms of science.

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“It’s an all-encompassing sort of name, which will be, I think, very useful to us in the future,” he said.

Anderson said he wants the museum’s programming to respond to the public’s interests, which could take it beyond strictly defined scientific fields.

“We don’t want to draw lines between particular sciences,” he said. “We don’t want to feel we are excluding areas of science we are interested in.”

A new exhibit launching May 4, “Grid and Flow,” will feature the science behind providing a clean water supply, with a focus on water quality issues over the years in Philadelphia.

Concurrent with the name change, the organization will launch a revamped website with an expanded digital collection of more than 5,000 items, including books, museum objects, and artwork.

Anderson said the museum is also raising funds for a physical expansion in the Old City building where it resides. The plans include a new gallery for its collection of paintings.

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