China's terra-cotta warriors and 24 more great museum shows this fall

Museums this fall take a look at their home territory and far-off parts of the world. The Franklin Institute has its curatorial nose in both realms.

The home part of the story for the area’s non-art museums encompasses the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, the city’s grand boulevard stretching from the Philadelphia Museum of Art to City Hall. Several Parkway institutions, including the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, which was on what became the Parkway before the Parkway existed; the Central Library of the Free Library; the Barnes Foundation; and the Franklin Institute are all mounting exhibitions that explore the boulevard in historical documents and images.

The Franklin Institute will also range across the globe when it opens an exhibition featuring Xian, China’s famed 2,000-year-old terra-cotta warriors, in September. It will be the first visit in more than 30 years that the renowned warriors, discovered accidentally in the 1970s, have made to Philadelphia.

Elsewhere, museumgoers will have the opportunity to peruse manuscripts and books related to Dracula and Frankenstein, marvel at paper constructions of the human interior, see actual dino eggs, and even contemplate the spectacles of John Marshall, fourth chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Lisa Nilsson: Connective Tissue (Mütter Museum of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, through Jan. 4). Artist Lisa Nilsson creates ornate paper constructions that explore the complex geography of human anatomy. (215-560-8564, muttermuseum.org)

Camera icon Lisa Nilsson
“Connective Tissue”: Lisa Nilsson’s anatomical paper art on display at the Mütter Museum through Jan. 4.
Battle of Yorktown (The Museum of the American Revolution, through Sept. 24). Two detailed versions of paintings created for King Louis XVI by Louis-Nicolas van Blarenberghe, court painter of battles to the king. These detailed versions of the siege and surrender of Yorktown were done by van Blarenberghe for French general the comte de Rochambeau, commander of the French forces at Yorktown. (215-253-6731, www.amrevmuseum.org)

The Living Book (Library Company of Philadelphia, through Jan. 5). A varied exhibition of large books, small books, ugly books, beautiful books, silly books, and serious books highlighting the many different roles books play in our lives. (215-546-3181, librarycompany.org)

John Marshall: Patriot, Statesman, Chief Justice (National Constitution Center, through Dec. 31). Exhibit highlights the character and constitutional legacy of the nation’s fourth chief justice by focusing on his roles within the early republic. (215-409-6600, constitutioncenter.org)

World War I: USS Olympia (Independence Seaport Museum, no closing date). The Olympia, famous as Commodore George Dewey’s flagship in the Spanish-American War, served into the 1920s. During WWI, the cruiser was used to intervene in Russia, protect the Allied zone in the Adriatic Sea, defend the U.S. coast, and transport the body of the unknown soldier home from France. (215-413-8655, phillyseaport.org)

Camera icon ANS Archives
Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, the first institution on the Parkway (before there was a Parkway), at 19th and Race Streets in 1876.

Corridor of Culture:  100 Years of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway (Central Library of the Free Library, Sept. 8-November 2018). The Free Library of Philadelphia marks the centennial of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway with an exhibition of photographs, artwork, and memories of the creation and use of the  Parkway over the last century. (215-686-5322, freelibrary.org)

Parkway 100 (Franklin Institute, Sept. 8-November 2018). Prints and maps from the institute’s collection showing the before and after of Parkway development, and photos from the 1930s, when the Parkway was opened to traffic. (215-448-1200, fi.edu)

Constitution Day (National Constitution Center, Sept. 18). To celebrate, the center hosts a series of programs and activities throughout the museum, including a naturalization ceremony, a conversation with Ken Burns and Lynn Novick about their Vietnam War documentary, and a Supreme Court panel on citizens who have brought cases before the high court. (215-409-6600, constitutioncenter.org)

Camera icon National Constitution Center
Chief Justice John Marshall’s inkwell and spectacles.

Warner Mifflin: An Unflinching Quaker Abolitionist (Historical Society of Pennsylvania,  6:30-8 p.m. Sept. 21). Historian Gary Nash discusses the life of Mifflin. Energetic, uncompromising, and reviled, he was a key figure who helped bridge the abolitionist movements before and after the American Revolution. (215-732-6200, hsp.org)

Into the Veil (Laurel Hill Cemetery, Sept. 23, 8 p.m.-midnight). “Life is eternal. Death is merely a change in condition,” or so they say. Laurel Hill and Atlas Obscura team up for an immersive evening exploring the transition from life to after-life, the liminal world that exists between the land of the living and the realm of the dead. (215-228-8200, thelaurelhillcemetery.org)

New Perspectives on Historic Collections (Wagner Free Institute of Science, 6-8 p.m. Sept. 28). Temple University arts and humanities scholars have been conducting research in the Wagner’s library and collection for a year. This evening program looks at the eight research projects that have emerged so far — from poetry inspired by the collection to jewelry based on scientific drawings. (215-763-6529, wagnerfreeinstitute.org)

Terra-cotta warriors of the First Emperor (Franklin Institute, Sept. 30-March 4). The exhibition features 10 terra-cotta figures from the renowned Xian burial complex where the warriors were found in the 1970s, and more than 170 other artifacts from the pre-Qin, Qin, and Han dynasties that tell the larger story of the formation of a unified China — and the science, technology, and innovation surrounding the great archaeological discovery. (215-448-1200, fi.edu)

Camera icon The Franklin Institute
Terra-cotta warriors of the First Emperor.

Tiny Titans: Dinosaur Eggs and Babies (Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, Sept. 30-Jan. 15). What could be better than dinos? Baby dinos! The exhibit presents an array of authentic dinosaur eggs and nests collected from around the world. (215-299-1000, ansp.org)

Explore Philly’s Buried Past (Philadelphia Archaeological Forum, Oct. 7). October is Pennsylvania Archaeology Month and this annual event presents the latest archaeological artifacts and site discoveries from the tristate area. (phillyarchaeology.net)

Occupied Philadelphia: The British Are Coming Back! (Museum of the American Revolution, Oct. 7-15). The museum commemorates the 240th anniversary of the British occupation of Philadelphia with a week of special programming, culminating with a two-day living-history event on Oct. 14 and 15. In partnership with neighboring sites in Philadelphia’s historic district. (215-253-6731, www.amrevmuseum.org)

A Peek at the Past, A Look Toward the Future (Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, Oct. 10-Oct. 4, 2018). Part of the celebration of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway centennial, this exhibition illustrates a century of change at the Parkway’s first cultural institution and offers a glimpse into the academy’s future focus. (215-299-1000, ansp.org)

Becoming U.S.: The Immigrant Experience in Philadelphia (Historical Society of Pennsylvania,  6:30-8:30 p.m. Oct. 11). What does it mean to become an American? What does it mean to emigrate, and how do you make a new place home? A panel discussion seeks to go beyond differences of ethnicity, race, and citizenship status. (215-732-6200, hsp.org)

Lantern Slide Salon (Wagner Free Institute of Science,  6-8 p.m. Oct. 12). The Wagner celebrates Archives Month Philly with a showcase of glass-lantern slides from the special collections of local institutions. This salon will present historic images along with intriguing stories, all shown in the Wagner’s immersive lecture hall with a historic projector. (215-763-6529, wagnerfreeinstitute.org)

Camera icon Collection of Rosenbach Museum
From Bram Stoker’s “Dracula,” a note on head injuries by Sir William Thornley Stoker.

Frankenstein and Dracula: Gothic Monsters, Modern Science (Rosenbach Museum, Oct. 13-Feb. 11). Two hundred years after Frankenstein was published, pages from Mary Shelley’s manuscript will make their only appearance in the United States, to be displayed for the first time alongside the Rosenbach’s collection of Bram Stoker’s notes for Dracula, accompanied by 19th-century scientific, medical, and literary works. (215-732-1600, rosenbach.org)

Access to Science (Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, Oct. 15). Children on the autism spectrum and their families are invited to experience Philadelphia’s dinosaur museum in the morning, before it opens to the public. Preregistration is required; same-day registration is available at the door. (To register, call visitor services 215-299-1060, ansp.org)

Where the Children Sleep (American Swedish Historical Museum, Oct. 21-March 4). A series of 22 photographs of sleeping refugee children by acclaimed Swedish photographer Magnus Wennman. Through these simple images, each of which bears a story, Wennman captures the unimaginable impact of the war in Syria. (215-389-1776, americanswedish.org)

Big and Small, Books for All (Central Library of the Free Library, Rare Book Department, Oct. 23-March 24). An exhibit for all ages of books selected for their extreme sizes and unusual shapes. Hundreds of items will be on display, including a 4,000-year-old Sumerian tablet that is smaller than a bar of soap, a handwritten medieval music book taller than a toddler, an Armenian prayer scroll longer than an alligator, and a tiny book barely the size of a pencil eraser. (215-686-5322, freelibrary.org)

Camera icon Rare Book Dept., Free Library
Serments d’Amour, Zurich (1953), dwarfed by a penny.

Taking a Stand for Equality: Octavius V. Catto (Philadelphia History Museum, Oct. 26-March). An activist, educator, ballplayer, and vestryman murdered by whites on election day 1871, Catto is at last coming into public view with a monument unveiling Sept. 26 at City Hall. This exhibition, opening a month later, brings together artifacts and documents from the O.V. Catto Lodge of Elks and St. Thomas African Episcopal Church, including a lodge banner and a baseball from Catto’s team, the Pythians. (215-685-4830, www.philadelphiahistory.org)

Bearing Witness: Four Days in West Kingston (Penn Museum, Nov. 18-July 15). In May 2010, the “Tivoli Incursion,” a stand-off between Jamaican security forces and a local gang leader wanted by U.S. authorities, led to the death of at least 75 in West Kingston, Jamaica. This new exhibition sheds light on those events through video and audio footage featuring first-hand accounts of people directly affected by the violence. (215-898-4000, penn.museum)

Camera icon National Museum of Anerican Jewish History
Poster, Solidarity Sunday (1984), National Museum of American Jewish History.

Power of Protest: The Movement to Free Soviet Jews (National Museum of American Jewish History, December, exact dates to be decided). A small, free-standing exhibition built to travel will explore the personal stories of American Jewish activists and Soviet Jews — known as refuseniks. Their cause sparked a worldwide human rights effort. (215-923-3811, nmajh.org)