American Philosophical Society Museum
American Philosophical Society
Discover the APS Museum
Discover the rare, the curious, and the authentic. Learn about American history and innovation. Make connections between art and science.
At the APS Museum, you will see exhibitions featuring treasures from the Society’s collections—perhaps Thomas Jefferson’s hand-written draft of the Declaration of Independence, a notebook from Lewis and Clark’s Western exploration, a rare 18th century astronomical clock, or a suite of exquisite botanical drawings by William Bartram.
With each exhibition, you can also enjoy imaginative programs that interpret the historical themes and objects on view and connect them to relevant issues in the world today.
What’s ‘Philosophical’ about the Museum?
In 1743, when Benjamin Franklin and his friends decided to establish the American Philosophical Society (APS), they studied the natural world and called themselves natural philosophers. Now we’d call them scientists.
For more than 270 years the APS has gathered and preserved a rich collection that traces American history and science from the Founding Fathers to the digital age. It includes over 13 million manuscripts plus scientific specimens and instruments, patent models, rare books, portraits, maps, prints, photographs, and watercolors.
The Museum is located in Philosophical Hall, completed in 1789. Now a National Historic Landmark, it was once home to Charles Willson Peale’s famed natural history and portrait museum–the first successful museum in the nation.