The Giant Heart.

Walk-Thru Giant Heart

Field review by the editors.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The Giant Heart is one among many superlatives at the Franklin Institute, admittedly an old, sentimental favorite now surrounded by fancy interactive exhibits. Built as a temporary exhibit from paper mache in 1954, the Institute's two-story tall walk-through human heart was called "The Engine of Life." Today, it still beats -- you can feel the deep bass thrum-thrum as you turn the corner into the health gallery. The heart exerts an almost hypnotic power, as visitors heading for other exhibits are enticed to enter its moistly lit chambers.

We've seen other walk-thru hearts at science museums, but Philadelphia's is the largest in America. Once inside the heart, it's a fun climb on narrow stairs that twist through rounded chambers, like a castle at a fairytale theme park. Arteries and chambers are labeled along your journey, providing some minimal education about cardiac anatomy. "Dad, where are we now?" "Huh? Uh, we're in the ...superior vena cava!"

At one point, visitors leave the heart and head into a wheezy section of the lungs. But then it's back into the other ventricle of the heart. The walk-thru takes about two or three minutes -- there's not much opportunity to dawdle, with eager corpuscles pushing from behind -- but that's about all you need.

The Museum considered at points giving the heart an upgrade, with more nods to modern medicine and health. But they stuck with the classic attraction that generations of schoolkids love, with some sound and lighting augmentation. No sobering messages about cholesterol and proper exercise...it's simply, elegantly, the giant heart.

Walk-Thru Giant Heart

The Franklin Institute

Address:
222 North 20th St., Philadelphia, PA
Directions:
The Franklin Institute. Northwest side of downtown. Benjamin Franklin Parkway at 20th St. On Logan Circle, just south of I-676.
Phone:
215-448-1200
RA Rates:
Major Fun
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

The Raven That Inspired The Raven That Inspired "The Raven", Philadelphia, PA - < 1 mi.
Bronze Bodies Emerge From Bronze WallBronze Bodies Emerge From Bronze Wall, Philadelphia, PA - < 1 mi.
Mutter MuseumMutter Museum, Philadelphia, PA - < 1 mi.
In the region:
Softball Field Lighthouse, Paulsboro, NJ - 8 mi.

More Quirky Attractions in Pennsylvania

Stories, reports and tips on tourist attractions and odd sights in Pennsylvania.

Explore Thousands of Unique Roadside Landmarks!

Strange and amusing destinations in the US and Canada are our specialty. Start here.
Use RoadsideAmerica.com's Attraction Maps to plan your next road trip.

April 21, 2018

My Sights

My Sights

Create Your Own Bizarre Road Trips!

Try My Sights

Roadside America app
Roadside Presidents app

Pennsylvania Latest Tips and Stories

Latest Visitor Tips

Sight of the Week

Sight of the Week

Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park, Wilson, North Carolina (Apr 16-22, 2018)

SotW Archive

USA and Canada Tips and Stories

More Sightings

Sightings. Arrives without warning. Leaves no burn marks. A free newsletter from RoadsideAmerica.com. Subscribe now!
RoadsideAmerica.com Hotel & Motel Finder

Special online rates for hotels & motels.

Book Online Now

 

Favorite Quirky City Sights