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The Atwater Kent Museum (also known as the Atwater Kent Museum of Philadelphia) was founded in 1938 as Philadelphiamarker's city history museum.


The museum was established through the efforts of Philadelphia Mayor S. Davis Wilson, Frances Wistar, president of the Philadelphia Society for the Preservation of Landmarks, and A. Atwater Kent, radio pioneer and inventor. In 1938 Wilson and Wistar approached Kent to purchase the recently vacated Franklin Institutemarker building and create a history museum for the City of Philadelphia. They were joined in their efforts by the president of the University of Pennsylvaniamarker, the director of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, and the president of the Franklin Institute. Kent agreed and purchased the building as a gift for the city with three conditions: It was to be dedicated to the history of Philadelphia; named for Kent; and be open to the public free of charge (in 1994, a City Ordinance allowed the museum to charge an admission fee.)

After three years of renovations carried out by the Works Progress Administration, the Atwater Kent Museum was formally dedicated on April 19, 1941.


Today, the Museum houses more than 80,000 objects related to Philadelphia and regional history, including an estimated 10,000 17th- to 20th-Century artifacts from the Historical Society of Pennsylvania art and artifact collection, 1700 Quaker-related items from Friends Historical Association Collection, and collections reflecting Philadelphia manufacturing, the 1876 Centennial Exposition, toys and miniatures, and radio broadcasting. The Museum operates as a city agency as part of Philadelphia's Department of Recreation.

As of January 2009, the museum galleries are closed to the public for planned renovations scheduled to be completed in March, 2010.

Historic building

The museum occupies architect John Haviland's landmark Greek Revival structure at 15 South 7th St., built in 1824-26 for the Franklin Institutemarker. The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on August 1, 1979.

Notable facts

External links


  • Russell F. Weigley et al. Philadelphia: A 300 Year History. New York: W.W. Norton, 1982.

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