Top Museum Exhibits To See This Fall In Philadelphia

September 17, 2012 7:00 AM

(The Philadelphia Museum of Art. File photo)

If you’ve explored all of the local museums and think you’ve seen it all, think again. This fall, Philly’s museums are doing it up right with options everyone will love. Enjoy everything from the history of the Girl Scouts to horror stories from a state penitentiary to natural wonders seen through the eyes of brilliant, budding photographers at the city’s best museum exhibits this autumn.

Dead Sea Scrolls: Life and Faith in Ancient Times
The Franklin Institute
222 N. 20th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19103
(215) 448-1200

Dates: May 12 to Oct. 14
Price: $31.50 adults/$30.50 military/$25 youth 3 to 11/price also includes general admission to The Franklin Institute

More than 60 years ago, a shepherd found a hidden cave near the shore of the Dead Sea. Hidden inside were ancient texts that hadn’t been seen for two millennia. A total of 972 well-preserved scrolls were unearthed in all, known today as the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Franklin Institute’s exhibit “Dead Sea Scrolls: Life and Faith in Ancient Times” showcases one of the most complete collections of artifacts from ancient Israel compiled. It features the oldest-known copies of the Hebrew Bible as well as more than 600 other items exemplifying ancient Hebrew life, such as a three-ton stone from Jerusalem’s Western Wall, artifacts from Jerusalem’s City of David, and limestone Ossuaries from the early Roman period.

Shipwreck! Winslow Homer and The Life Line
Philadelphia Museum of Art
2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Philadelphia, PA 19130
(215) 763-8100

Dates: Sept. 22 through Dec. 16
Price: $20 adults/$18 seniors 65 and older/$14 students, children 13 to 18, free children 12 and younger, members/first Sunday of each month is pay what you wish all day/price includes general admission to all three buildings of Philadelphia Museum of Art

This exhibition highlights Winslow Homer’s masterpiece “The Life Line” (1884), which is a depiction of a rescue from a shipwreck. The exhibit also includes prints and paintings made by Homer after “The Life Line” that carry forward his themes of struggle, anxiety and facing tragedy. Moreover, enjoy two other sections of the exhibit entitled Hope and Heartache, which examines those waiting on shore, and They’re Saved! They’re Saved!,which explores themes of romantic rescue.

On My Honor: 100 Years of Girl Scouting
National Constitution Center
525 Arch St.
Philadelphia, PA 19106
(215) 409-6600

Dates: May 12 through December 31, 2012
Price: $14.50 adults/$13 seniors 65 or older and students/$8 children 4 to 12/free members, active duty military and children younger than 3/price includes general admission to The National Constitution Center

Many top journalists, political leaders, athletes, journalists and entertainers spent their childhood as Girl Scouts. With big names such as Mariah Carey, Taylor Swift, Hillary Clinton and Condoleezza Rice, the Girl Scouts foster successful women to this day. “On my Honor: 100 Years of Girl Scouting” celebrates the 100th anniversary of this honorable organization. The artifacts on display include uniforms and badges from the past 100 years, nature study journals from the early 20th century and the original Girl Scout Handbook.

Terror Behind the Walls
Eastern State Penitentiary
North 22nd Street and Fairmount Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19130
(215) 236-3300

Dates: September thru November
Price: $12 adults/$10 seniors/$8 students and children

Eastern State Penitentiary is a 20-minute walk from Center City Philadelphia, but inside its walls you’ll feel like you’re in a whole other world. The castle-like structure was built in the early 1800s and was once the most expensive and famous prison in the country. It ceased operations in the 1970s and only recently opened for tours. “Terror Behind the Walls” uses this frightening setting as a backdrop for one of America’s top-ranked haunted attractions. More than 200 performers are used to both scare and delight visitors from late September through early November.

Flirtatious Feathers: A Colorful Collection of Academy Bird Photographs
The Academy of Natural Sciences
1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Philadelphia, PA 19103
(215) 299-1000

Dates: May 26 to Sept. 23
Price: $15 adults and children 13 and older/$13 children ages 3 to 12/price includes general admission to The Academy of Natural Sciences

This exhibit features images from the Academy’s Visual Resources for Ornithology catalogue, which is the most comprehensive bank of images of birds in the world. The images are stunning and colorful and include those of birds in flight, song or repose. The exhibit was built in collaboration with Drexel University’s Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts and Design students.

Katherine Ernst is a full-time novelist and freelance writer in Montgomery County. Follow her activity on her blog at Her work can be found at

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