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News - 2016

United States Secretary of State John Kerry awarded Benjamin Franklin House Medal for Leadership

London, Monday 31 October 2016 – Benjamin Franklin House today hosted the United States Secretary of State John Kerry to present him with the Benjamin Franklin House Medal for Leadership.

The announcement of Secretary Kerry’s award of the Medal follows Benjamin Franklin House welcoming its 100,000th visitor earlier this year.


The Benjamin Franklin House Medal for Leadership recognises extraordinary individuals following in Benjamin Franklin’s footsteps who exemplify great vision, cross-cultural understanding and tolerance, effectiveness, and intellectual rigour.

This is the second time that Benjamin Franklin House has awarded the Medal, the first being awarded to Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg LP and former Mayor of New York City, in June 2014. Kerry's remarks at the Ceremony can be found on the U.S. Department of State's Website.

Commenting on the awarding of the Medal to Secretary Kerry, Benjamin Franklin House Chairman, John J Studzinski CBE, said:

"As Chairman of Benjamin Franklin House, I am delighted that John Kerry is receiving the Benjamin Franklin House Medal for Leadership.  Secretary Kerry is among the most respected global statesman today for his extraordinary patient, humble yet persistent approach to maintaining and nurturing diplomatic ties around the world. There is no question that many of Benjamin Franklin's values are reflected in his track record and diplomatic acumen.  Congratulations Secretary Kerry!"

Benjamin Franklin House would like to say special thanks to Portland Communications for their excellent pro-bono public relations support and William Norris for generously providing the catering for the reception.

For more pictures, take a look at the U.S. Department of State's official Flickr page.

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Katharine Baeter, curator in the Department of European Paintings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, brings together a fantastic collection of Benjamin Franklin portraits in an exhibit that is not to be missed! The exhibition, entitled Benjamin Franklin: Portraits by Duplessis, will be on display at The Met until November 28, 2016.

The exhibition features several works depicting Benjamin Franklin, the most famous of which was painted by Joseph Siffred Duplessis (1725-1802) in the late 1770s. Alongside the portrait is featured a seldom exhibited preliminary pastel portrait of the work, on loan from the New York Public Library. Baeter not only unites an excellent selection of Franklin portraiture but uses the works to highlight the 18th century practice of image transfer and reproduction.  This tradition of replication means that many of the Franklin portraits will be well known to visitors, most notably the likeness on the present day American one-hundred dollar bill.

If you find yourself in New York this Autumn, be sure to take in this exhibition for a rare gimpse into an important period of American and European portraiture.

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Blast from the Past!

We noted with great interest the London Picture Archive just launched by the City of London. The site provides free access to over 250,000 fascinating historical images of London, including quite a few of Craven Street and the surrounding area as seen in the image below of Craven St, dated 1936, showing ‘Franklin’s Bar’ at No. 40 Craven St. The site also features an interactive map highlighting many of the images geo-tagged so you can explore specific areas of interest. We highly recommend taking a few hours to amble through the archive and explore London’s great history.

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Annual Science Fair 2016

Students from Brandlehow Primary School, Wandsworth, and Hartley Primary School, Newham, competed against each other in our annual Science Fair.

Over recent weeks students worked on science projects exploring levers and pulleys, applying the scientific method which Franklin exemplified, and the best projects were presented at Benjamin Franklin House on 7 July.

Guest judge Peter Gallivan, Family Programmes Officer at the Royal Institution, awarded first prize to Team ICE from Brandlehow Primary, which created a project exploring the effect that the weight attached to a trebuchet has on the distance it can fling a projectile (an eraser in this case). They even built the trebuchet themselves!

Mr Gallivan praised the students’ rigour in devising a truly fair test and the clear presentation of their results. The winning students were awarded medals and prizes, and every student who took part was given a certificate of achievement to celebrate their hard work and investigative spirit.

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Benjamin Franklin House celebrates 100,000 Visitors!

On 15 June 2016 we celebrate 100,000 visitors to Benjamin Franklin House since opening in 2006.

We were joined by American Ambassador Barzun, our official 100,000 visitor, to mark the occasion.

Located at 36 Craven Street near Trafalgar Square, Benjamin Franklin House is the world’s only surviving home of Benjamin Franklin, one of America’s most iconic and respected historical figures. Franklin was a key founder of the United States, and is famous for his contributions to science, invention, diplomacy, music, and more.

For nearly sixteen years between 1757-1775, during the tumultuous period preceding the Revolutionary War, Franklin lived at Craven Street.  By the end of the twentieth century after years as a lodging house and offices, the building was threatened by dilapidation.  Rescued from dereliction by a dedicated group of American and British citizens, it opened for the first time on 17 January 2006, Franklin’s 300th birthday, as a unique museum and learning facility that illuminates the little-known history of Franklin’s pivotal years in London.  Here he was transformed from committed monarchist to American patriot, playing a key role in events that lead to the birth of the new nation.

Since opening on January 17th in 2006 we have:

*Shared Franklin’s legacy of innovation, diplomacy, and civic and personal responsibility with over 100,000 visitors with the majority seeing the our unique Historical Experience Held nearly 280 thought-provoking events through the Robert H. Smith Scholarship Centre

*Served nearly 12,000 children free of charge in our Student Science Centre, primarily from inner city London schools; and reached more than 13,000 children through outreach activities, like Ben's Traveling Suitcase, which brings Franklin creativity into the classroom

*Provided learning experiences for over 300 interns from universities across Britain, America, and beyond

*Hosted a range of private and corporate events including dinners, receptions, filming, photo shoots, meetings, and fashion exhibitions

We look forward continuing and expanding the important work of Benjamin Franklin House.

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2016 UK and US Robert H. Smith Lectures in American Democracy

           

This year, the Benjamin Franklin House organised two Robert H. Smith lectures exploring the theme of American Democracy.

The first, Benjamin Franklin: American Democracy and Innovation was held at the New-York Historical Society on May 11. Best-selling author Walter Isaacson asked the question 'How did one of America's most inventive and dynamic founders influence the development of American Democracy?' Isaacson argued that it was Franklin's innovative pursuits which helped to shape the American national character and leave an enduring Englightment-era legacy. You can listen to the lecture on the New-York Historical Society website.

On May 24th Benjamin Franklin House held the second of it's Robert H. Smith Lectures this year in conjuction with the Eccles Centre at the British Library. Cambridge University’s Gary Gerstle took us back to America’s origins and reconstructed the strangely intimate and symbiotic relationship of democracy and money across the whole of the nation’s history. Listen to The Intimate History of Democracy and Money in America audio.

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George Goodwin interview with History Extra

Did you know that Benjamin Franklin lived in London for almost 16 years?

In an interview recorded at Benjamin Franklin House our Author in Residence George Goodwin talks about his latest book Benjamin Franklin in London. Go to the History Extra Website to listen and find out more about Franklin's years in his favourite city.

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Frankly Speaking - The Results!

A Langdon Academy student argues for a tax on all high-sugar foods

On 10 March 2016, students from seven London, Liverpool, Leeds, and Coventry schools took part in Frankly Speaking, the annual Benjamin Franklin House debate competition in association with the US Embassy London and the DAR. Through four rounds, they debated motions including ‘This House would dismantle the British nuclear deterrent including the Trident missile system,' and ‘This House believes the next 70 years of the US-UK "special relationship " will be stronger than the last 70 years,’ the latter a motion chosen by US Ambassador Matthew Barzun.

 Students argued for and against motions, providing as much evidence as possible to prove their cases.  The judges were impressed by their ability to reason and communicate effectively.  The debating skills they have developed will serve them well in their studies and longer term.

 Guest of honour, US Ambassador Barzun, presided at the closing ceremony recognising the day’s winners.  First place finisher in the Years 12 & 13 age bracket, Stephen Dawes from Prince Henry’s Grammar School in Otley, Leeds, will take part in the Benjamin Franklin Transatlantic Fellows Summer Institute at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina this summer.  Joining students from across the US and Europe, he will explore American culture and politics and opportunities to improve civil society. First place finisher in the Years 10 & 11 age bracket, Nancy Palumbo from Seven Kings High School in Redbridge, London, will enjoy a guided tour of the Houses of Parliament in the company of The Rt. Hon. the Lord Cope of Berkeley. This prize was made possible through the generous support of the Daughters of the American Revolution (Walter Hines Page Chapter). Team prizes were also awarded. 

All participants will be invited to a summer reception at Benjamin Franklin House. Many thanks to the US Embassy and the DAR for their partnership support and expertise.

Posted 16 March, 2016

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Frankly Speaking, a Benjamin Franklin House Debate

Our sixth annual debate competition Frankly Speaking will be held on Thursday 10 March at Benjamin Franklin House and at the US Embassy, London. Upper secondary school students will be debating the following motions as they compete for a place at the Benjamin Franklin Transatlantic Fellows Summer Institute at Wake Forest University, North Carolina:

    ‘This House would dismantle the British nuclear deterrent including the Trident missile system’

     ‘This House would levy a tax on all high-sugar foods’

     ‘This House would reverse the recent decision by the British fertility regulator to allow human embryos to be genetically modified’

     ‘This House would vote to leave the EU in the upcoming referendum’

     ‘This House believes that any American over the age of 18 should be legally allowed to buy a handgun without restriction’

The teams who progress to the Final ‘Ambassador’s Debate’ of the Competition will debate ‘the US-UK Special Relationship’ however they won’t know the exact details of the motion until 30 minutes prior to the debate!

We would like you to get involved! Tweet us at @BFHouse with your thoughts on any of the motions using the hashtag #franklyspeaking and we will retweet where possible. We will also be live-tweeting throughout the day using this hashtag, so be sure to follow us at @BFHouse and our partners @USAinUK.

Posted 3 March, 2016

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Benjamin Franklin House Celebrates 10 Years!

 

On 17 January 2016 we celebrated Benjamin Franklin’s 310th birthday and the 10th anniversary of the opening of Benjamin Franklin House to the public as a dynamic museum and educational facility.  Guests joined us for a special Open House to learn more about plans for the next 10 years at Benjamin Franklin House, and enjoyed bubbly and birthday cake. Thank you to our supporters, visitors, and volunteers!

Posted 16 February 2016

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News Archive - 2015

News Archive - 2014

News Archive - 2006

News Archive - 2005

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To find out more, or book a place for an event, please call 020 7839 2006 or email info@benjaminfranklinhouse.org

 

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