Chapter Five: WORLD STAGE A Society of "Ingenious Men" Shipboard Amusements Electrical Fire
Exhibition Photo: A Gentleman's Laboratory
Enlarge | fig. I
A Gentleman's Laboratory, installation 2005
hroughout his life, Franklin’s curiosity and hands-on approach to his surroundings attracted him to science or “natural philosophy,” as it was then called. A true man of the Enlightenment, Franklin’s reasoning was practical and observation-based, and he shared his theories in letters to international contemporaries and colleagues. Franklin firmly believed that scientific knowledge should directly benefit society, so he never patented his inventions and always sought useful applications for the theories he developed.

Franklin’s studies of electricity, including the legendary kite and key experiment, remain his most important and best known scientific achievements. Although he personally placed a higher value on public service than science, it was his scientific status that gave him the connections he needed to succeed in politics and diplomacy.

The Phillips Museum of Art