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“A Huge Disappointment”

Philadelphia History Museum
Ranked #92 of 438 things to do in Philadelphia
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Attraction details
Owner description: Just steps from the Liberty Bell the new Philadelphia History Museum showcases an array of historical objects, art, and artifacts that tell the story of Philadelphia, from its founding in 1680 to present day. The Museum features eight renovated galleries, containing stunning items from its vast holdings of over 100,000 objects, and provides various interactive elements to enhance the visitor experience. On view are items ranging from George Washington’s 1790s writing desk to Joe Frasier’s 1970s Championship boxing gloves. Visitors can also take a tour of the city by walking on the world’s largest map of Philadelphia.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Level Contributor
537 reviews
42 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 141 helpful votes
“A Huge Disappointment”
Reviewed October 20, 2012

In the interest of being modern, the Atwater Kent Museum has been renamed.. Just because the floorspace is small doesn't mean that a coherent story can't be told. The exhibits are watered down to an elementary school level. In an attempt to be politically correct, they have neglected Native Americans and other ethnic groups that comprise Philadelphia. The exhibit on beer makes one think that hardly anything happened until recent years. The baseball exhibit hovers too much on the contemporary. What happened to the A's or to other teams? What about William Penn's "glorious greene town?" Pictures of Benedict Arnold's wife, Peggy Shippen, and a " looney tune" women from the 1820's occupy space that might have better been given to Rebecca Gratz. Is a potty chair better than wonderful Philadelphia furniture of the colonial times. Not everything can be told, but what about postcard displays, excerpts from Birch's prints, or PowerPoint presentations to supplement the exhibits? This is a huge disappointment!!!

Visited October 2012
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Thank larryderm
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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80 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
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English first
Manassas, Virginia
Level Contributor
106 reviews
26 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 63 helpful votes
“Great place”
Reviewed September 24, 2012

We found this museum accidentally over the weekend. I was just looking for a bathroom and they were having an open house, so admission was free, so we stayed and wandered around. It's quite impressive. They have all kinds of artifacts relating to Philadelphia history and it's people. Impressive artwork, the layout was great and we truly enjoyed our time there.

Visited September 2012
Helpful?
Thank Suzanne H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Level Contributor
53 reviews
36 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 58 helpful votes
“History Lite - Very Lite”
Reviewed September 23, 2012

One of Philadelphia's strengths is its long and very interesting history. So much has happened or originated in this city. Why can't it have a good history museum celebrating its past? it deserves it. This museum has just reopened after being redesigned with several millions of dollars put into it and yet it is no better than before. Of course it is a bit brighter and the restrooms are nicer. But one still learns very,very little of Philadelphia's history. The new second floor exhibits are ok but they should be supplementary exhibits that would enhance the main exhibit. They are not main exhibit quality .... and are just as random as the displays they replaced. The first floor is almost a total waste. The largest room has only a map of Philadelphia on the floor. This again would be a nice supplementary exhibit but hardly worthy of being the only thing in one of the few large spaces that exists in this museum. For an out-of-town visitor to Philadelphia, this museum will have little of interest. For a native Philadelphia, it will have some interest because the random objects may stir a memory or truthfully what Philadelphian doesn't enjoy even a tiny exhibit on the Phillies or beer. An hour is more than enough here but 10 dollars is way too much to pay for that privilege.

Visited September 2012
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1 Thank JhDude
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Level Contributor
153 reviews
52 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 89 helpful votes
“Huzzah! It's now fully open, and what iconic items!”
Reviewed September 22, 2012

I'm so glad that the Philadelphia History Museum is now fully open; we've been needing this for a long time. It's an interesting choice of displays in that it's not sequential, more single iconic items or contrasting groupings, but nonetheless effective, eye-catching, and involving. Some of the items are enough to turn a Philadelphia history lover into a choked-up mess: William Penn's wampum belt, for instance, or the portrait of Peggy Shippen. Others have more diverse appeal: Joe Frazier's boxing gloves, a 1900 potty chair, a Bulletin bench.

The floor map of Philadelphia is great, too, and should be a marvelous teaching tool about the expansion of the city and its present communities.

It may not have quite the same resonance for non-Philadelphians, but is definitely worth a quick visit for anyone who comes to the city.

Visited September 2012
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2 Thank missalg
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Washington DC, District of Columbia
Level Contributor
3,309 reviews
1,826 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3,893 helpful votes
“Not quite finished, but what they have is great!”
Reviewed July 21, 2012

There are three exhibits open to the public, all of which are interesting and applicable to Philly's history at different points in time. Definitely pay a visit while you're in town, but make sure to go back once it's finished, too! The staff are friendly and willing to help if you have questions. And it's FREE!

Visited July 2012
Helpful?
1 Thank QuickWhitTravel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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