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Mind Games at the Franklin Institute

June 18, 2014 | Telepresence Options


Story and images by Julia M. Klein / The Wall Street Journal

The museum opens its new exhibition dedicated to 'Your Brain'

We know how the human heart works--at least from a scientific perspective. The brain is another story. The science of brain function, including the mysteries of consciousness, memory and language acquisition, remains a work in progress. That is both an important takeaway and a key challenge faced by the Franklin Institute's ambitious new permanent exhibition, "Your Brain." After all, if scientists don't really understand the brain, what hope is there for the rest of us?

The show, which tries valiantly to make complex concepts both accessible and concrete, zigzags through the second floor of the $41 million, 53,000-square-foot Nicholas and Athena Karabots Pavilion. Designed by Saylor Gregg Architects, this limestone and glass addition completes the science museum's planned footprint and blends neatly with its original neoclassical structure.


The pavilion's most dramatic feature, on the museum's southern facade, is the environmental artist Ned Kahn's "Shimmer Wall." Its nearly 11,000 5-square-inch anodized aluminum panels reflect the sky and ripple with the wind, creating constantly changing patterns--a lovely and riveting enhancement to the streetscape.

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