With its iconic “Ghost House”, Venturi’s Franklin Court redefined interpretive site place-making. Thirty-five years later, the desire to convert the underground galleries to more fully address Franklin’s life, times, and legacy led to a complete interior revamping of the Benjamin Franklin Museum.
The renovation and expansion project presented the opportunity for the creation of an inviting and accessible entry building that seeks to contribute to Franklin Court’s “entourage” yet be differentiated from the original elements. Venturi’s entry building elements (canvas canopy and brick façade) are reinterpreted in steel and frit-pattern glazing. Capturing space from the original canopy footprint provides for a Court-level lobby and graceful, day lit, transition stair to the galleries below.
A new interactive and visitor-directed experience is provided within this biographical museum. The new exhibits enable visitors to flow freely through a series of "virtual rooms" from Franklins' house depicting themes that present the patriot's character, personality, interests, intellect, and accomplishments. When exiting, a large “view window” frames the Ghost House, reorienting visitors to Franklin Court and Venturi’s unique vision.