History

The past that made Ohio the place it is today

Paul A Johnson Pencil Sharpener Museum

13178 State Route 664 South, LoganOH 43138

Paul A Johnson Pencil Sharpener Museum Sign

The Paul A. Johnson Pencil Sharpener Museum is located next to the Hocking Hills Regional Welcome Center. This museum is an oversized garden shed. What the museum lacks in size it makes up in the size of the collection. The museum houses the collection of Paul Johnson. There are over 3,400 pencil sharpeners in the collection. It is just one room. A person can stand in the middle and turn three sixty and see the whole museum. A visit to the area should include this museum. It will not take long to see, but will amaze one in the amount and variety of pencil sharpeners. It is one of Ohio’s hidden treasures. So, make it a point to see this museum.

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COSI and The American Museum of Natural History Dinosaur Gallery

333 W Broad St, Columbus, OH 43215

https://cosi.org/exhibits/dinos

In the fall of 1999 the Center of Science and Industry, COSI for short, opened its new riverside museum along the Scioto River. This museum was a $210 million work of art. Built on top of the old Central High School, the building is a very large and inviting presence in Columbus. Unfortunately it also had a high upkeep cost to it. Because of the building expense and maintenance costs COSI eventually had to shutter large portions of its building, including the entire south wing. The major exhibit in that space was the ever popular Adventure. Adventure did reopen in 2010, but this time as an extra fee. At the turn of 2017 Adventure was closed for good. In its place would come a new gallery with the help of The American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in NYC.

The American Museum of Natural History Dinosaur Gallery is the newest permanent exhibit in the museum. The gallery is dedicated to the full understanding of the large creatures that once ruled the earth. More than just talking about them as a zoo would, with info on the different types and displays of each, the gallery dives deep into how they lived, how they acted, how we know what we know, what exactly they were, and what they became. The exhibit does not shy away from the idea that dinosaurs did not become lizards, but become birds. The amount of information it presents to explain why we now believe this to be true is vast.

This in-depth exploration of the 100’s of millions of years dinosaurs roamed the earth can become a little overwhelming for kids. The exhibit breaks up the information with displays, dioramas, and skeletons, and some interactive elements. Kids will enjoy looking at all the visual things the gallery. There are also many hands on portions that they will love. Adult can take a deeper dive into the facts and figures. The hall is a great place to take any interested in natural history, dinosaurs, birds, or great museum exhibits.

Along with the Dinosaur Gallery the American Museum of Natural History used the available portion of the wing to open a rotating Special Exhibition Gallery next door. When we went the gallery had Traveling The Silk Road: Ancient Pathway on exhibit. This exhibit was presented by AMNH and was amazing. While the exhibits will change from time to time if they live up to the standards that COSI and AMNH have given with the Dinosaur Gallery we expect everyone to be a reason in and of themselves to come and see why COSI is one of the greatest Science Museums in America.

 

COSI – 10 years later

Columbus, OH 43215
http://www.cosi.org/

Original Review

10 years Ago we posted a review of Columbus’ Center of Science and Industry. COSI as it is known. Since then many things have changed and evolved. Some sections have gone away. Others have advanced with the times.  Over all the museum has finally found its footing and is as amazing as ever.

Upon arriving at the complex the first change many will notice is that the old parking lot is gone. In its place is an underground large parking garage. Atop the garage is a green space with gardens and spaces for programs. From the outside this opens up the area to be more scenic.

Inside much has changed, but in more subtle ways. Do to budget concerns the museum had to close some of it exhibits. This lead to the more kid friendly attractions staying and some of the more educational parts being shuttered. Over the years these parts have reopened, moved, and been reworked. Some have become areas for traveling exhibits that are included with admission. These sections keep the museum fresh and ever changing.

With the new sections open the museum feels well balanced. Sections for the kids (Gadgets) still are around but new section where the whole family can learn are also included. Energy Explorers teaches about conservation and proper use through interactive games and exhibits. All of the activities are tied to a card that one picks up on entering and everything affects the overall outcome of the person chosen. The kids can have fun with the games, while the adults can think about the answers. Small choices can have a big out come.

This mix of fun and learning helps to teach without preaching. Many of the attractions that have reopened are like this. Life has a working research lab from Ohio State University. At the same time the data is collected through many interactive stations and games. Ocean now has a lab / more information room where visitors can study the world right around them, not just the bigger ocean. COSI seems to have taken the “great for kids learning about a subject but not so much a place to “explore more information.” and fixed it. Now many of the section have both simple to learn ideas and larger context working together.

 

One of the best parts of the redesigns is the section dedicated to the history of the Museum itself. In it is many photos and artifacts from the begone days of the old building and even the lost section of the new one. This is where the old mine elevator is now housed. Any one who remembers the original COSI will love to ride it agian.

Probably the biggest change is to the South Wing. gone is the popular, but more for kids, Adventure section. In its place is a New Gallery. But that is a whole other review in itself.

So for its 20th year in the new location we say give it a try. COSI has found its footing and is now a great place for Adults, kids , and every one of any age.

The Scioto Mile

https://www.sciotomile.com/

The Scioto Mile is a collection of 9 parks along the Scioto River in the heart of Downtown Columbus. Started in 2015, this “mile” was a reworking of the land surrounding the river. Dams were removed. The area was taken back to a more natural state and the its beauty was emphasized. The mile has more than 175 acres of land, but is more than just a series of parks along a river.

The parks are connected by the Scioto Trail. The trail makes up the backbone of the system running from Scioto Audubon Park in the south to the Olentangy Trail in the north and on to the Ohio to Erie Trail. It follows the east side of the river winding from park to park. The parks are not just open green spaces with a few benches. Many of them are filled with sculptures and memorials. There is a center dedicated to the visual arts. More in to the performing arts? The trail has a place for them too. The variety of things to see and do is enormous.

Along the trail is Milestone 229. A restaurant for people on the trail. This is not a fast food joint but a comfort food joint for everyone. It “offers a kids’ menu, as well as vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options.” The restaurant has great views of the river and the Scioto Mile Fountain. The fountain is a large interactive fountain that comes alive at night with lights and fog. A must see on the mile.

In the middle is the name sake that flows through the city. This section of the river has been improved to be a great water recreation venue. Paddleboards, canoes, and kayaks can be seen on the river during the warmer months. Tours are even offered.

Along the west bank the trail goes through less parks but is no less as scenic. The trail ends up at the new National Veterans Memorial and Museum and one of the Greatest Science Museums in the nation.

The Scioto Mile is a great way to get out and see nature or to experience the city life, or do both at the same time. It is the variety that makes this state great all within the heart of its capital city.

 

Repost: National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

It has been almost 10 years since we went. We hope to go back soon. It still is a great museum. In honor of #MLK2019:

50 E Freedom Way, Cincinnati, OH 45202

http://www.freedomcenter.org/

Although the museum is called the “Underground Railroad” Freedom Center it teaches more than just the struggle to escape slavery. It teaches the history of the problem, the struggle to escape, and the problems faced afterwards. The Museum is also more than just a museum about Black Americans. It includes sections on the strife that faced Women, Native Americans, and Abolitionists, and many others during the time period.

The museum starts with a short film about three fictional slaves. From there one passes a real slave pen and into a small section on the Underground Railroad.  This section seems like to little a space to tell too much information. From there the visitor is sent into an immersive video theater where they can experience the escape across the Ohio River. This is one of the best parts of the museum. The video tells the story as if you are there with them.

After seeing everything the second floor has to offer one moves to the top floor, where the bulk of the museums information is presented. From Slavery to Freedom tells the history of slavery in the new world, from the middle passage to the prewar years and ending with the post-Civil War era. This is the main section of the museum where most of the information is contained. Flowing like a river from the early days of the continent and the United States to the Civil War, major events are described alongside the story of the people involved. This creates a more in-depth vision of the times and a less classroom telling. The major problem with this section however is that it leaves out the Underground Railroad. Yes, because the story is told else where it is not included in the time line. This is disconcerting but does not distract too much from the overall experience.

The final sections of the museum are the “The Struggle Continues,” with a short film about modern slavery and injustices, the temporary exhibit area which house different exhibits throughout the year, and Reflect, Respond, Resolve, an interactive area to learn more about injustices in the modern world.

Even though the museum is dedicated to the Underground Railroad and slavery, it does an amazing job of keeping everything even-handed. It tries not to villainize any one group. The museum explains the facts and lets the visitor interpret them as they see fit. It is sensitive to how touchy the subject is. In “Reflect, Respond, Resolve” section the interactive displays have no right answers only more questions.

The museum is a must stop for anyone who has lived in a world with injustice. In our current climate it is even more important that ever.

19 place to go in ’19

For the last few years we have been doing a list of places to see in Ohio. This is our wish list of places to see for the year.  There is no order or ranking. So, we hope you enjoy, 19 places to see in 2019.

  1. John Glenn Museum – In the 50th year of the Apollo 11 moon landing we wanted to visit more of this new museum
  2. The Stuart & Mimi Rose Music Center at The Heights – A large music venue in Huber Heights. Seems to have a great line up each year.
  3. Fort Meigs – the site of a major battle of the war of 1812. Recreated to look like it did in William Henry Harrison’s time.
  4. Loveland Castle – A cool medieval castle in sw Ohio.
  5. Paul A Johnson Pencil Sharpener Museum – The name says it all
  6. Billy Ireland Cartoon Museum and Library – a collection and displays on the newspaper and magazine comic. Free!
  7. Ohio Theater – Columbus – They always have a good schedule.
  8. Mansfield -While known for the world-famous Ohio State Reformatory Museum, there are a lot of other museums and attractions in the area. This place is worth a weekend.
  9.  Riverboat Cruise (Cincinnati ) – Here are two places that offer riverboat cruises on the Ohio river. Both offer different cruises and tours. Queen City and BB Riverboats
  10. Pine Tree Barn, Wooster – a shop, barn, restaurant, and unique Ohio attraction all in one
  11. Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams (original location) and the North Market – Columbus – We love markets, we love ice cream. This is seems like the perfect combination.
  12. Covered Bridge Pizza – Multiple locations of these pizza restaurants that are located in covered bridges.
  13. Toy and Plastic Brick Museum – Lego and toys and a museum, Yes please.
  14. The Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati – Cincinnati has great art, and somehow we missed last time in town. Also we want to see more of the great murals.
  15. Glass Heritage Museum – Heritage and art all in one free location.
  16. Deer Creek State Park – A new place to hike and be outdoors.
  17. Sweetie Candy Company – Return to the Candy!
  18. A Street Fair in Ohio – So many to choose from.
  19. Sandy Ridge Reservation – scenic views and hiking trails

12 days of Holiday Activities 2018 – Day #11

The “A Christmas Story” House

http://www.achristmasstoryhouse.com

Every year TBS has a tradition of playing a Christmas Story for 24 hours on Christmas eve and day. Many people across America do not know that the film, based on stories from Jean Shepherd‘s book “In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash“, was filmed in Cleveland. The house that was used for exterior shots and the opening of the “Fragile” package has become a museum and is open year round. This time of year, however, is the perfect time to visit the house. The original house has been decorated to match the sound stages from the movie and tours are given. Overnight stays are also offered.  The Bumpuses’ house next door (for overnight stays), a Museum across the street, and a gift shop are also on site. The House is located in a residential area so be mindful of the neighbors when visiting.

a few blocks away from the House is

West side Market

http://westsidemarket.org

Our Review of The West Side Market

The West Side Market is a nationally known market. The market is a great place to stock up on fresh meat, vegetables, and other goodies for your holiday meals. The site is also a great place to see the history of Cleveland. The citizen of Cleveland have been going to the market for the last 106 years so you know they must be doing something right.

12 days of Holiday Activities 2018 – Day #8

A Crystal Holiday at Krohn Conservatory

Cincinnati, Ohio

https://www.cincinnatiparks.com/krohn/

The Krohn has great flowers year round but The Holiday show this year is taking it a step further.  As their website says
“See replicas of the Roebling Bridge, Carol Ann’s Carousel, Union Terminal and others.  Special this year, National Park Service structures will be on display, including the Statue of Liberty and Mount Rushmore National Memorial.  Applied Imagination’s installations garner nationwide recognition and delighting audiences by using plant materials to build historic architecture and whimsical worlds.”
Just down the way  from the Krohn is

LUMINARIA

Night Lights at the Cincinnati Observatory
December 9 6:30pm – 8:30pm

https://www.cincinnatiobservatory.org/publicevents/upcoming-events-2/

For the 43rd year the Cincinnati Observatory will open up it historic telescope for a look at the Holiday night sky. They will have carolers, stargazing, gift shop, and Hot Drinks to warm you up.

Best of all this event is free and open to the public.

12 days of Holiday Activities 2018 – Day #6

A Carillon Christmas – Carillon Historical Park Dayton
https://www.daytonhistory.org/events/special-events/a-carillon-christmas/

Our review of the park

The Carillon Historical Park is amazing. it is one of the best open air museums is the state and has a lot to offer. At the Holidays they go all out. The large bell tower in the front of the park (a Carillon, which gives the place its name) is turned into the second largest, behind King’s Islands Eiffel Tower, christmas tree in Ohio. The buildings and paths are decorated  with a nod to history. At night some of the buildings even take on new meanings with the working fireplaces becoming kitchens baking cookies to sell. With Carolers, card printing on real printing presses, model trains (some large enough to ride), puppet shows on the half hour, and plenty of food there is bound to be something to see all night.

Make sure to visit the Carillon for a breath taking view inside the tree. Just try “not” to spin around too much while looking up at the lights.

While the Christmas event start later in the evening the park is open all day for the same ticket. Come early, get a parking spot, and enjoy the museum and grounds before the crowds. Then when the park opens have you’ll have time for the festivities.

12 days of Holiday Activities 2018 – Day #3

Ohio Statehouse Holiday Festival and Tree Lighting:

December 6, 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM

This year’s holiday festivities at the Ohio Statehouse open with the annual tree lighting on December 6th. The festival will include Carolers, local mascots, historical characters, dignitaries, and even Santa himself. The event is free.
http://www.ohiostatehouse.org/calendar/event?id=1294

Through out the rest of the season there will be weekday lunchtime choir concerts in the Museum Gallery in the basement of the Statehouse. In the past the performances have included local groups and high school choirs from around the state. As always the concerts are free and open to the public.
http://www.ohiostatehouse.org/calendar/event?id=1308