Pixar at The Franklin Institute

Somewhere during the first year we were married was the last time I visited the Franklin Institute. That visit was singularly for the purpose of seeing the Chronicles of Narnia exhibit that I had foolishly told Jonathan was there. Lance ended up having to work, so it was Jonathan, me, and my antiquated GPS.*

*This was like the first GPS ever known to mankind…and I had never before driven to Philly on my own, it was nighttime, and I was twenty-something.

Despite driving around the circle at Logan Square maybe two or three times and never making the connection that their parking garage was around the corner from the museum entrance, I ended up finding street parking directly in front of the museum.

Naturally, I had no coinage on me and rushed inside to beg the kind lady at the ticket booth for change. To which I learned that parking during the hour of our arrival was free.

Despite this confused entrance to Philly and the museum, I remember very much enjoying the exhibit. This could also have been due to Jonathan’s reaction to the exhibit, particularly the way his face lit up as we waited ‘inside’ the wardrobe and it began to snow as we entered into Narnia.


Before that, I had gone to the Franklin Institute during class trips and once while Hubby and I were dating. In a recent visit, I was surprised with how much smaller the size was of this once massive feeling place. When driving home from a day of gaming with Jonathan we had been intrigued by a billboard for the museum’s new Pixar exhibit.

It’s hard not to love Pixar. The simple image of Woody from Toy Story makes me think of my childhood, and specifically always brings my brother, Joel, to mind. As a five-year-old when the movie came out, Joel’s one goal in life was to be Woody, and in my mind, he is.


Though I didn’t really know what to expect in an exhibit titled, “The Science Behind Pixar”, my positive memories of the Narnia exhibit had me prepared for the bells and whistles of animation coming to life before my very eyes.


While it was informative of the behind the scenes craziness that goes into making a seemingly simple animated film, I felt that as a whole it was rather anticlimactic. I want to say this may be strictly as coming from an adult perspective, but at the same time I felt it may have also been lacking the pizzazz necessary for children.

There were little stations set up with different elements that go into making a Pixar film including modeling, animation, lighting, simulation, and more. Though each station was educational and gave you the opportunity to try your hand at each aspect of film making, I felt like I was the only person walking around thinking, “Guys, seriously? You know the real thing is like a million times more difficult than what they are showing here, right?”


Ultimately, I found myself more excited for the different pieces of artwork on display throughout the exhibit than anything.


I was, however, intrigued to see just how much STEM concepts are used in the world of animation, especially since there has been a large push for better STEM programs in schools recently.

Still, I found myself more interested in sketches like the above of Wall-E’s design or in the breakdown of things like how they created the glow around Joy in the movie, Inside Out.


My recommendation for those who have interest in an exhibit such as this one, but who don’t want to pay the price of general admission plus the special exhibit price, it to go during their evening hours where the price of general admission isn’t included. It’s still a little pricey for what you are getting, but at least saves you a little. Maybe you’ll luck out and find a perfect, free parking spot, too.

The Franklin Institute
The Science Behind Pixar
222 North 20th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103


Foucault’s Pendulum


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