1. Home

Lightning Rods: Joshua Sapan's Collection

By

1 of 4

The Franklin Institute's Lightning Rod Exhibit
Lightning Rods: Joshua Sapan's Collection
© The Franklin Institute Science Museum
I'm not sure if there is a better location to showcase a collection of antique lightning rods than the city of Philadelphia and the Franklin Institute. After all, it started in that city over 260 years ago when Benjamin Franklin conducted his shocking experiments. It was at the Christ Church steeple, in 1752, that Franklin took the daring chance to fly a kite with a key attached to conduct electricity from the clouds.

This mythic moment was actually just the first step in Franklin’s long mission to guard his fellow citizens from storm hazards by creating one of his greatest inventions, the lightning rod.

The Exhibit
The Franklin Institute is celebrating the anniversary of Franklin's birth with an exciting exhibit from the private collection of New York folk art devotee Joshua Sapan. The gallery of eight handcrafted antique lightning rods are dated from the late 18th through the mid-20th century and will be located in the Electricity exhibit.

The collection will be on display for one year and the cost is free with admission.

Mr. Sapan’s more than 100 item collection of lightning rods is believed to be the world’s largest, and some of its most beautiful and singular offerings are part of this first of its kind installation at the Franklin Institute.

Josh Sapan commented, "My own interest in collecting lightning rods stemmed from reading Walter Issacson’s biography of Benjamin Franklin, and also my own decades -- long interest in American folk and industrial art. Aside from their obvious beauty and diversity, the creation and growth of the lightning rod business is a fascinating illustration of how science, art and commerce can fuse to bring the world inventions of both great value and eternal beauty."

About Josh Sapan:
An inveterate collector and the creator of America’s first museum dedicated to "discarded art", Sapan is also the author of the forthcoming book, "The Big Picture: American Panoramic Group Portraits," published by Princeton Architectural Press, a collection of historic group panoramic photography.

In his professional life, Mr. Sapan serves as the President and Chief Executive Officer of AMC Networks, a national programming network group which owns and operates the cable television networks: AMC, IFC, Sundance Channel, WEtv and IFC Films.

About the Franklin Institute
Located in the heart of Philadelphia, The Franklin Institute is a renowned and innovative leader in the field of science and technology learning, as well as a dynamic center of activity. Pennsylvania’s most visited museum, it is dedicated to creating a passion for learning about science by offering access to hands-on science education.

To learn more, visit the website at www.Fi.edu.

Next: >>> Sapan tells what sparked his interest

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.