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Philly museums offering free admission for the Parkway 100 kick-off

The Barnes, the Franklin Institute, and more are free or pay what you wish on September 8

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Friday marks the big kick-off of Parkway 100, a more than year-long celebration of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway’s 100th Anniversary. Starting today, a bunch of cultural institutions along the Parkway are offering pay-what-you-wish admissions, and there are a bunch of other free events happening along the boulevard, from concerts to walking tours to dance parties.

Here are 11 places to visit to celebrate—the party starts at 4 p.m.!

The full list of September 8 events can be found here. Want to dig a little deeper into the history of the Parkway? Take this invisible walking tour that tells the stories behind the buildings lost to the Parkway.

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1. Eastern State Penitentiary

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2027 Fairmount Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19130
(215) 236-3300
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The first penitentiary in the U.S. is opening its doors for free from 4 to 9 p.m. The voice of actor Steve Buscemi will lead you on a tour of the massive and eery space. Don’t miss the most recently opened space of the penitentiary, the medical wing.

Courtesy of Eastern State Penitentiary

2. Fairmount Water Works

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640 Waterworks Dr
Philadelphia, PA 19130
(215) 685-0723
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This National Historic Landmark on the Schuylkill will be hosting a series of interesting events all night, including a behind-the-scenes, hard hat tour that will include a stop at the underground Kelly Pool. Also very important: There will be Philadelphia Water Ice samples.

3. Philadelphia Museum of Art

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2600 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy
Philadelphia, PA 19130
(215) 763-8100
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Despite its ongoing renovations, the Philadelphia Museum of Art is still very much open for business, especially tonight when it will offer pay-what-you-wish admission from 4 to 9 p.m. There will be musical performances, tours, and even food and drinks inside and out. Check out the “Wild” exhibit before it closes on September 17.

The exterior of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The museum has columns flanking the entryway and a large courtyard in front. Courtesy of Shutterstock

4. Rodin Museum

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2151 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy
Philadelphia, PA 19130
(215) 763-8100
Visit Website

The Rodin Museum next to the Barnes Foundation is always pay-what-you-wish, but tonight it will also play host to a number of free outdoor activities: You can create a cardboard city with the Center for Architecture and Design, or lend a hand to the Mural Arts at their mural painting party.

Courtesy of Shutterstock

5. Barnes Foundation

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2025 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy
Philadelphia, PA 19130
(215) 278-7200
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From 4 to 10 p.m., the Barnes Foundation will offer pay-what-you-wish admission (tickets typically cost $25). In addition to access to the whole museum (which Curbed readers say has one of the most beautiful interiors), visitors will also have special access to the exhibit “Mohamed Bourouissa: Urban Riders.”

The exterior of the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia. The facade is glass. There are trees in front. Courtesy of the Barnes Foundation

6. Free Library of Philadelphia

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1901 Vine St
Philadelphia, PA 19103
(215) 686-5322
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As the name suggests, this library is always free for card-holders. But there will be a lot of exhibits here tonight and throughout the Parkway 100 celebrations that you’ll want to check out, including a series of exhibitions that detail the history of the Parkway, as well as a special Monument Lab sound installation by Emeka Ogboh on the 4th floor’s rooftop garden.

7. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

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1682 Wood St
Philadelphia, PA 19103
(215) 755-4155
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The Philadelphia Mormon Temple’s Meetinghouse and the temple grounds will be open this afternoon as part of the Parkway 100 celebrations. For a free organ concert, head to the Meetinghouse between 6 and 8 p.m. (The actual Mormon Temple is always closed to the public, but here’s a peek inside.)

Philadelphia Pennsylvania Mormon Temple Courtesy of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

8. The Franklin Institute

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222 N 20th St
Philadelphia, PA 19103
(215) 448-1200
Visit Website

Typical admission to the Franklin Institute is $20 for adults and $16 for kids. Not tonight: From 4 to 9 p.m. the science institute is free. There are nearly a dozen exhibits to explore, and a bunch of live science shows and activity stations will be on hand for a more interactive experience.

9. Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter & Paul

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1723 Race St
Philadelphia, PA 19103
(215) 561-1313
Visit Website

The largest brownstone structure in the city, the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter & Paul, will open its doors tonight from 4 to 10 p.m. Take a tour of the historic space, or enjoy a free, 30-minute organ concert at 4 p.m. and 9 p.m.

10. The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

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1900 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy
Philadelphia, PA 19103
(215) 299-1000
Visit Website

From 4 to 9 p.m., one of the coolest natural sciences museums is 100 percent free. Handlers will be walking around with live animals, movies about dinosaurs will be playing, and for the adults, the Academy Beer Garden will be open with food and drinks (from 4 to 10 p.m.).

11. Moore College of Art & Design

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1916 Race St
Philadelphia, PA 19103
(215) 965-4000
Visit Website

Founded in 1848 as the first women’s arts school in the nation, the Moore College of Art & Design will open its galleries from 4 to 10 p.m.; the shop will be open until 8 p.m. While you’re there, enjoy food, drinks, and music at the block party hosted by the school, which is considered one of the most iconic modern buildings in Philly.

1. Eastern State Penitentiary

2027 Fairmount Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19130
Courtesy of Eastern State Penitentiary

The first penitentiary in the U.S. is opening its doors for free from 4 to 9 p.m. The voice of actor Steve Buscemi will lead you on a tour of the massive and eery space. Don’t miss the most recently opened space of the penitentiary, the medical wing.

2027 Fairmount Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19130

2. Fairmount Water Works

640 Waterworks Dr, Philadelphia, PA 19130

This National Historic Landmark on the Schuylkill will be hosting a series of interesting events all night, including a behind-the-scenes, hard hat tour that will include a stop at the underground Kelly Pool. Also very important: There will be Philadelphia Water Ice samples.

640 Waterworks Dr
Philadelphia, PA 19130

3. Philadelphia Museum of Art

2600 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy, Philadelphia, PA 19130
The exterior of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The museum has columns flanking the entryway and a large courtyard in front. Courtesy of Shutterstock

Despite its ongoing renovations, the Philadelphia Museum of Art is still very much open for business, especially tonight when it will offer pay-what-you-wish admission from 4 to 9 p.m. There will be musical performances, tours, and even food and drinks inside and out. Check out the “Wild” exhibit before it closes on September 17.

2600 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy
Philadelphia, PA 19130

4. Rodin Museum

2151 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy, Philadelphia, PA 19130
Courtesy of Shutterstock

The Rodin Museum next to the Barnes Foundation is always pay-what-you-wish, but tonight it will also play host to a number of free outdoor activities: You can create a cardboard city with the Center for Architecture and Design, or lend a hand to the Mural Arts at their mural painting party.

2151 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy
Philadelphia, PA 19130

5. Barnes Foundation

2025 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy, Philadelphia, PA 19130
The exterior of the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia. The facade is glass. There are trees in front. Courtesy of the Barnes Foundation

From 4 to 10 p.m., the Barnes Foundation will offer pay-what-you-wish admission (tickets typically cost $25). In addition to access to the whole museum (which Curbed readers say has one of the most beautiful interiors), visitors will also have special access to the exhibit “Mohamed Bourouissa: Urban Riders.”

2025 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy
Philadelphia, PA 19130

6. Free Library of Philadelphia

1901 Vine St, Philadelphia, PA 19103

As the name suggests, this library is always free for card-holders. But there will be a lot of exhibits here tonight and throughout the Parkway 100 celebrations that you’ll want to check out, including a series of exhibitions that detail the history of the Parkway, as well as a special Monument Lab sound installation by Emeka Ogboh on the 4th floor’s rooftop garden.

1901 Vine St
Philadelphia, PA 19103

7. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

1682 Wood St, Philadelphia, PA 19103
Philadelphia Pennsylvania Mormon Temple Courtesy of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

The Philadelphia Mormon Temple’s Meetinghouse and the temple grounds will be open this afternoon as part of the Parkway 100 celebrations. For a free organ concert, head to the Meetinghouse between 6 and 8 p.m. (The actual Mormon Temple is always closed to the public, but here’s a peek inside.)

1682 Wood St
Philadelphia, PA 19103

8. The Franklin Institute

222 N 20th St, Philadelphia, PA 19103

Typical admission to the Franklin Institute is $20 for adults and $16 for kids. Not tonight: From 4 to 9 p.m. the science institute is free. There are nearly a dozen exhibits to explore, and a bunch of live science shows and activity stations will be on hand for a more interactive experience.

222 N 20th St
Philadelphia, PA 19103

9. Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter & Paul

1723 Race St, Philadelphia, PA 19103

The largest brownstone structure in the city, the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter & Paul, will open its doors tonight from 4 to 10 p.m. Take a tour of the historic space, or enjoy a free, 30-minute organ concert at 4 p.m. and 9 p.m.

1723 Race St
Philadelphia, PA 19103

10. The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

1900 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy, Philadelphia, PA 19103

From 4 to 9 p.m., one of the coolest natural sciences museums is 100 percent free. Handlers will be walking around with live animals, movies about dinosaurs will be playing, and for the adults, the Academy Beer Garden will be open with food and drinks (from 4 to 10 p.m.).

1900 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy
Philadelphia, PA 19103

11. Moore College of Art & Design

1916 Race St, Philadelphia, PA 19103

Founded in 1848 as the first women’s arts school in the nation, the Moore College of Art & Design will open its galleries from 4 to 10 p.m.; the shop will be open until 8 p.m. While you’re there, enjoy food, drinks, and music at the block party hosted by the school, which is considered one of the most iconic modern buildings in Philly.

1916 Race St
Philadelphia, PA 19103