Saturday, August 23, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Ben Franklin goes under cover

Ben Franklin goes under cover

Ben Franklin goes under cover

The iconic 20-foot high statue of Benjamin Franklin inside the rotunda of the Franklin Institute gets a special protective polyethylene cover.

Ben is actually the Benjamin Franklin National Memorial, as designated by the United States Congress in 1972 as the official national memorial to Franklin. It was sculpted by James Earle Fraser, and weighs 30 tons, sitting on a 92-ton pedestal of white Seravezza marble. Originally opened in 1938, the rotunda was designed by architect John T. Windrim and modeled after the Pantheon in Rome.

Ben was being wrapped yesterday to shield him from dust and debris as the museum breaks through and removes part of the marble wall of the rotunda for an eventual entrance to the state-of-the-art "Your Brain" permanent exhibit, opening June 2014 as the centerpiece of the new Nicholas and Athena Karabots Pavilion.

Tom Gralish Inquirer Staff Photographer
About this blog

Tom Gralish is a general assignment photographer at The Inquirer, concentrating on local news and self-generated feature photos.

He has been at the paper since 1983, photographing everything from revolution in the Philippines to George W. Bush’s road to the White House to homeless people living on the street right outside his newspaper's front door. For his photo essay on Philadelphia’s homeless, he was awarded both the Pulitzer Prize and the Robert F. Kennedy Award.

His weekly newspaper column, "Scene Through the Lens," takes a look at Philadelphia's urban landscape.

Gralish, along with Inquirer colleague and Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Michael Vitez, spent a year visiting the Philadelphia Museum of Art to capture the stories and photos of "Rocky runners" who come from all over the world to climb the steps - just as Sylvester Stallone did in the Academy Award winning film, Rocky. Their book, Rocky Stories: Tales of Love, Hope and Happiness at America’s Most Famous Steps, was published in November 2006.

Reach Tom at tgralish@phillynews.com.

Tom Gralish Inquirer Staff Photographer
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