Are you originally from Philadelphia?
I’m not. I was born and raised in Houston, Texas. I went to the University of Texas at Austin, after that, came back to Houston for four years, five years, and then moved to Philadelphia in 2005.
In July 2015, you will celebrate your first year into your tenure as President and CEO of The Franklin Institute. Congratulations!
It’s great. The Franklin Institute (222 N. 20th St., Philadelphia, PA, 215.448.1200) is a great institution. We are the most visited museum in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It’s a privilege to be able to lead the team here, both staff and volunteers, and I have an incredible board of trustees. Educating citizens in science, technology and engineering is so important. They need to know what jobs are available in the work force.
What is the Franklin Institute exhibit to see this summer?
The “Genghis Khan: Bring the Legend to Life” exhibit one of the best-known warriors in the world. We’re bringing [his] story to Philadelphia. To tell the story of Genghis Khan, we’ll have everything from jewelry to manuscripts. The exhibit really captures the imagination of visitors young and old.
Can you give us a preview of what to expect in the fall?
In October, we will be opening an all-new imagined sports exhibition. The title has yet to be defined but this is going to be great. Sports and Philadelphia go hand in hand. We’re uncovering what the science and technology is behind not just playing sports, but getting ready to play sports and the technology that has gone into sports equipment. You’ll find out what your body needs in order to perform at your maximum strength. The “Sports Challenge” exhibit is one of our most popular exhibitions now, so we’re really excited about its upgrades.
Must-sees from the permanent exhibitions?
The Benjamin Franklin National Memorial. There is no other American who is like Benjamin Franklin, as a statesman, as a scientist, as a businessman and an innovator. Next, visit the Institute’s famous “The Giant Heart,” one of the best walk-through heart experiences. The “Your Brain” exhibition has really emerged as a fantastic stop. There are over 70 interactive features in there, and a neural network climbing structure.
What are some of your favorite family-friendly sites around town?
The Philadelphia Zoo (3400 W. Girard Ave., Philadelphia, PA, 215.243.1100) is such a great place to go with the kids. I love going to the historical sites with my family, from Independence Hall (520 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA, 215.965.2305) to the Betsy Ross House (239 Arch St., Philadelphia, PA, 215.686.1252) to the National Constitution Center (525 Arch St., Philadelphia, PA, 215.409.6600). My kids love art, as well, so we go to The Barnes Foundation (2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA, 215.278.7200) and Philadelphia Museum of Art (2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, 215.763.8100) on the weekends.
If you have friends coming in from out of town, what is the one restaurant you take them to go eat?
Osteria (640 N. Broad St., Philadelphia, PA, 215.763.0920), Amada (217-219 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA, 215.625.2450) and the Continental (1801 Chestnut St.,, Philadelphia, PA, 215.567.1800) are all great. To me, those give them a great experience of the variety of topnotch restaurants in Philadelphia. Then if they want a drink, I’ll take them to The Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co. (112 S. 18th St., Philadelphia, PA, 267.467.3277)—another great place to take out-of-towners.
You can hop on a plane and visit three science museums anywhere in the world. What are they?
I’m looking forward to going to Germany to see the Deutsches Museum (Museumsinsel 1, 80538 München, Germany, +49 89 21791). The Science Museum (Exhibition Road, London SW7 2DD, United Kingdom, +44 870 870 4868) in London is amazing, and the new Shanghai Natural History Museum (260 Yan'an E. Road, Huangpu, Shanghai, China, +86 21 6321 3548) is magnificent.
If you could wake up anywhere in the world tomorrow, where would that be and why?
Philadelphia. There’s no doubt about it. Philadelphia has so much to offer for both young and old, that's why I am here.