Published: October 25, 2013
By ROBERT STRAUSS


WHEN the Benjamin Franklin Museum opened in the wake of the American Bicentennial in 1976, it had to be one of the funkiest museums ever conceived for the National Park Service.

Visitors to the museum, built on the grounds of the house Franklin constructed in the late 18th century, trundled down a ramp, which at its switchback had a painting of a young Franklin walking into Philadelphia with his legendary two loaves of bread under his arms while a pretty young woman (said to be his eventual wife, Deborah) eyed him from her stoop.

Before entering the windowless main space, the visitor went through a mirrored room with flashing neon lights extolling Franklin’s accomplishments: “Author,” “Inventor,” “Statesman” and so forth.

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  • Ben Franklin Museum
    Photo: Jessica Kourkounis for The New York Times