Franklin Exhibit Opens at the Houston Museum of Natural Science

An exhibit celebrating the life of Benjamin Franklin opens today at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. As Houston Public Radio's Laurie Johnson reports, the exhibit seeks to recreate the world and persona of the legendary founding father.

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Visitors to the Benjamin Franklin: In Search of a Better World exhibit are greeted by the man himself.

"And having gone so far through life with a considerable share of felicity, the means I made use of which, with the blessing of God, so well succeeded, my posterity may like to know."

Step a little further into the exhibit, and you're surrounded by papers, furniture, inventions and interactive displays delving into the mind of Franklin. Dr. Rosalind Remer is the executive director of the Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary. She says every piece but one are original Franklin artifacts. In fact, she says he was so famous both domestically and internationally, that literally volumes of Franklin's materials remain intact.

"This is a guy who left a huge paper trail. So in fact, Franklin is one of these early founders who we can know almost anything about. There is a caricature of him. The sort of jolly uncle, almost a Santa Claus-like figure and we definitely wanted to get away from that because there's so much more to Franklin than his sense of humor."

The one replica in the exhibit is a recreation of Franklin's only surviving article of clothing. The original is buried deep within the archives of the Smithsonian and can't be exposed to air or light. Highlights of the exhibit include Franklin's printing press, some of his inventions like the glass armonica and original copies of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. And just as Franklin greets visitors at the entrance, he also has the last words at the end.

"The body of B. Franklin, printer, like the cover of an old book, its contents torn out and stripped of its lettering and gilding, lies here -- food for worms."

The Benjamin Franklin exhibit at the Houston Museum of Natural Science is in honor of the founding father's 300th birthday. It runs through January 21st. Laurie Johnson, Houston Public Radio News.

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