Charles Wilson Peale, a Philadelphia artist, naturalist, and APS member, founded a popular and influential museum in 1784. It was one of America’s first museums, and the first to be a lasting success. Peale’s extensive collections, which included everything from stuffed birds to portraits of prominent Americans, were displayed in Philosophical Hall from 1794 to 1802, with some items (including his famed mastodon skeleton) remaining at least through 1811.
In the spirit of Peale, who intended his museum to provide "rational amusement" for the general public, the new Museum in Philosophical Hall now features rotating, thematic exhibitions that explore the intersections of history, art, and science, with a focus on the early days of Philadelphia and the nation. Exhibitions include original manuscripts, rare books, works of art, scientific instruments, natural history specimens, and curiosities of all kinds from the APS’s own collections, along with unique objects on loan from other institutions.
The Museum in Philosophical Hall is located around the corner from Independence Hall in Philadelphia's historic district at 104 South Fifth Street. The building is on the west side of Fifth Street, just south of the National Park Service security-screening building on the corner of Fifth and Chestnut. A sign on the sidewalk marks the entrance.