Friday, December 19, 2014

Galileo and the Numbers Game at Franklin Institute

Pure science has had to justify itself somewhat at the Franklin Institute in recent years. When the museum's addition, the Futures Center, opened in the 1990s, attendance jumped, but only briefly. Since then the Franklin has turned to travelling shows to boost visitorship. Some are only maginally related to science.

Galileo and the Numbers Game at Franklin Institute

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
(AP Photo/Matt Rourke) AP

Pure science has had to justify itself somewhat at the Franklin Institute in recent years. When the museum's addition, the Futures Center, opened in the 1990s, attendance jumped, but only briefly. Since then the Franklin has turned to travelling shows to boost visitorship. Some are only maginally related to science.

And so it's been instructive to see how well the current Galileo show is doing - and more than a little satisfying to Franklin watchers who think pure science can bring in decent numbers when a show is smartly conceived and promoted (as this one was). In fact, Galileo is up at the same time as a Star Trek show, and Galileo is doing better. CEO/president Dennis Wint told me yesterday it's been seen by 100,000 visitors.

"It's exceeded our goals," said Wint. "This was a new venture for us, having a historical exhibition with a lot of important scientific instruments but not what our typical visitor expects with a hands-on special exhibition. The media in particular has been very good in telling the story."

Both shows close in September. Then, in October, Body Worlds moves back in.

Peter Dobrin Inquirer Classical Music Critic
About this blog

Peter Dobrin is a classical music critic and culture writer for The Inquirer. Since 1989, he has written music reviews, features, news and commentary for the paper, covering such topics as the Philadelphia Museum of Art at the Venice Biennale, expansion of the Curtis Institute of Music, the Philadelphia Orchestra's bankruptcy declaration in 2011, Philadelphia's evolving performing arts center and the general health of arts and culture.

Dobrin was a French horn player. He earned an undergraduate degree in performance from the University of Miami, and received a master's degree in music criticism from the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University, where he studied with Elliott Galkin. He has no time to practice today.

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