Museums

A place to learn about Ohio, America, and the World.

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.

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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

Bicycle Museum of America

7 West Monroe St., New Bremen, OH 

http://www.bicyclemuseum.com

There is a museum in New Bremen that houses a large collection of bicycles. Yes, bicycles. This is a classic example of a museum that house a unique focused collection.

When we entered this museum we were given the option to watch a short movie. This movie was about early bikes on display at an outdoor show. The movie did a good job at explaining early bikes. At first, it seems like a movie, might not seem like something to watch, but it did help with understanding the rest of the museum.

When visiting the museum we were given a guided tour and guide pamphlet to the bikes on the first floor. The guide has on it numbers that correspond with number located next to the bikes.  This was very handy in explaining the bikes. This really helped us in understanding all the historical bikes. The museum house the first bike, big wheeled bikes, and many other historic bikes.

The museum seemed small to us, until we traveled to the second floor. On the second floor there was Pee-wee Herman’s bike, recumbent bikes, classic kids bikes, and other bikes from more recent decades. There really was so many fascinating bikes to look at. These bikes brought back many memories. There was such a vast array of type of bikes.

Then a stairway appears leading to another higher section. At first it looked like just a room full of military bikes. The bikes were cool. Some were for transporting equipment, some were actual gun platforms. Then we saw the largest portion of the museum and realized we were on the third floor. The large room in back has a nice collection of bikes from all over. The room is so full of bike it starts to become a little overwhelming.

There is a room on the first floor full of medals, minerals, and other artifacts on display. It is a hodge podge of items well displayed. Most related to the area, or biking culture. The room is a nice to see before heading up stairs to the larger array of bikes.

For all the bikes on display there are many more in storage, so coming back to museum might mean seeing some new bikes in rotation.

The Bicycle Museum of America is a hidden find of a museum. This museum is very interesting and has some very historic artifacts. One does not have to love bikes or even really any interest to find this museum fascinating. Being able to be so close to historic bikes is very unique. Also the staff is knowledgeable at explaining the bikes and putting them in historic context. The museum is a must see, so pedal on over to this gem.

Tips:

  • Watch the film presentation first.
  • Take a guided tour
  • Use the guide to tour the first floor
  • Visit the second floor
  • Take time to see each artificat
  • Ask lots of question, the staff is very knowledgable
  • It might be helpful to visit the bikes in chronological order.

CRYPTOZOHIO: Most Haunted in Ohio II

Cryptozohio - Stories from the Depths

This a continuing list of places that claim to be “The Most Haunted” in Ohio. The location itself might not make the claim, but the claim is made by many people. In our last post (click here) we covered The most haunted City, House, Government Building, Prison, and Cemetery. Today we cover a few more of Ohio’s “Most Haunted”

Most Haunted Museum:

National Museum of the United States Air Force

In our post about the Ohio’s haunted museums we touched on the stories from the museum. Dedicated to the History of a branch of the Armed Service and housing weapons of destruction, the museum is the perfect recipe for ghosts stories and urban legends. The NMUSAF is bound to have a few things that remain long after the battles are fought.

… In the WWII exhibit ghost are said to haunt the planes they once flew. The Lady B Good’s entire crew is said to haunt the area surrounding its memorial stain glass window. Near by the plane is also said to be haunted, but it could just be the crew from the Lady mistaking it , the same model of plane, as their own.  One or two planes have even been said to be “piloted” by ghost who are trying to finish their last mission. Additionally almost all of the Prisoner of War sections of the museum seem to have an eerie feel about them. Almost as if those who never returned have found away back.

This museum is more than just ghost stories though. On July 8th, 1947 something crashed outside of a farm in Roswell, New Mexico. Was it a spy balloon or something else? Some stories say that what ever was found was transferred to the base and stored in Hangar 18. The Base also has stories surround it and the technology it houses. It is said that it has reverse engineered alien tech and that the owners are coming back to claim it.

Most Haunted Island:

Johnson’s Island

Some people say that the “Most Haunted Island in Ohio” is South Bass Island, but with the size of land mass it is more of a haunted town than a haunted Island. Per acre Johnson’s Island is considered the “Most Haunted.” The island maybe small but it played a big role in the Civil War.

Johnson’s Island is located off the coast of lake Erie near Marblehead Lighthouse. The proximity to shore, about 1/2 mile away, made it a suitable location for a Civil War Prison and later Fort. The island is close enough to bring supplies, but far enough to discourage escape attempts. Despite the distance to shore making swimming a challenge in the warmer months, it was not much of a deterrent during the colder months when the lake would freeze over. The frozen lake would also make resupplying the prison a challenge. The harsh winter months were hardest on the prisoners from the south who were use to more mild winters. Disease and weather took a toll. Despite the problems, few prisoners escaped and only 200 men died, making it one of the lowest mortality rates of any prison during the war. But from that 200 men many may have not had easy deaths.

After the war the island was abandoned by the Army. Eventually it was used as a resort, farm land and a rock quarry. From the time the first civilians started to come to the island legends of the former inhabitants had started to be told. In the rock quarry a group of Italian immigrants, many who did not speak english, started singing a strange song one day. It was later found out that this song was Dixie. At the Confederate Cemetery voices can be heard. It is also said the Monument to the fallen soldiers has been seen to move around. The strange sightings are not just confined to the cemetery. While most were buried in the cemetery proper, graves have been found all over the small island. Most of the properties on the now inhabited island are said to be on top of a grave or two.

Most Haunted Inn:

Golden Lamb

Opened shortly after Ohio became a state The Golden Lamb is one of the oldest continually operating Inns in the nation. Over the years many famous people have spent the night there. While it was more famous during the 19th century, with every one from Mark Twain to every Ohio President stopping by, it still sees a good number of visitors each year.

With so many years of operation it is expected that tragedies and strange occurrences will happen.  Probably the weirdest accident to happen was that of lawyer Clement Vallandigham. While in his room trying to show fellow lawyers how his client’s “victim” could have shot himself accidentally, he accidentally shot himself. His client was found not guilty.  Vallandigham was not the only member of court to die in the inn. Charles Sherman, a Supreme Court Justice for the state of Ohio, while doing his required rounds of his district became ill. He was transferred to the Golden Lamb, which is across the street from the courthouse. He died a few days later. His death left his wife and children in dire straights, including future Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman. The ghost that haunts the middle floors is said to be one of these two men.

Probably the most famous Ghost of the Inn is that of Sarah. She was the daughter of a former innkeeper and grew upon there.  Her room has been turned into a museum on the fourth floor. Some say this is to appease her, other say it is just a tourist attraction. It is said that late at night a young girl can be seen wandering around the halls near the room. Some say that the ghost is not that of Sarah however. Having lived to adulthood it is strange that she would come back as a child. The tricks the ghost play are not that of an adult but of childish youth. Many think it could be the spirit of Eliza Clay, daughter of famous senator Henry Clay, who died in the inn of a fever.

The Golden Lamb is open year round as a restaurant and working Inn. The Inn does not shy away from its history but celebrates it. This is one place that can be stayed in at night and one might get to experience the strange happenings. One can also visit during the day and see the historic rooms with a chance at a close encounter. For more stories of the Golden Lamb check out https://www.citybeat.com/home/article/13016077/golden-lamb-inn-ghost-hunt 

Most Haunted Park:

Wayne National Forest – Athens Unit

Wayne National Forest may not be a single park, but the parks within it can run together so much that it is hard to distinguish one from the other at times. The area of the forest that has been most cited in stories and legends is the portion surrounding Athens. This area includes Hocking Hills State Park and Lake hope State Park.

Moonville tunnel ror

As we wrote in our post on haunted state parks of Ohio, Lake Hope State Park  is home to Moonville Tunnel. This tunnel is an old abandoned rail tunnel that has seen it share of tragedies. Tales of former rail workers, citizens who fell from the bridges connecting the tunnel. Even without the stories the modern location is creepy all by itself.

… The tunnel is located off the Moonville rail trail. There is a high water trail down the road. This path will lead around the creek that runs high most of the warmer months. The tunnel itself is a run down popular area. The walls are lined with graffiti and trash. Even in the light of day the area is creepy and scary. The idea that the ghost of a lost railroad worker, or a local citizen, becomes almost a guarantee once one has visited the area. Well worth the hike.

Also located in this portion of Wayne National Forest is the ever popular Hocking Hills. This place is so popular that it draws citizens from across the state every weekend. Some stories are from first time campers who see or hear things that are natural in the deep forest of the region and attribute it to the legends of the park. While this may explain some of the tales told, so many more are told that there must be something lurking in the park.  From the natives who first inhabited the land to the Early explorers who are the name sake of the region, many a visitor has come to the place never to leave.

(These parks only contain a portion of the legends from the region see our post here for more)

Most Haunted Subway:

Cincinnati’s Abandoned Subway

Okay this is Ohio’s only Subway. The creepiness and the abandoned nature of it got it on our list. It is also one of, if not the, largest abandoned subways systems in the nation. The size of the thing has attracted many urban explorers ( We do not encourage trespassing), homeless citizens, and wild animals to visit the tunnels.

The subway system was very well-built and is in good order almost 100 years later. This in part due to the workmanship of the people who built it and in part to it supporting a busy road above. Like most projects of the time, a few workers deaths was not unheard of. But did the workers ever leave, or do they continue to stay and work on a system with little hope of becoming active. Explorers who have gone into the tunnels have said to hear creepy noises and even moaning. Many have also said to have found the camps of the homeless who have made the tunnels home. Most visitors come away from the Cincinnati Subway with an uneasy felling.

A documentary on the System has been produced and airs on PBS from time to time. It is available on Amazon. If you would like to visit the Tunnels of Ohio’s Subway, tours are offered on occasion. We recommend a tour due to the nature of the location and the legality of exploration. Visit https://www.cincymuseum.org/heritage-programs#subway-talk-and-walk for more information.

 

 

museum entrance to Blair Museum

Blair Museum of Lithophanes

5403 Elmer Drive, Toledo, Ohio 43615
(at the Toledo Botanical Gardens)

http://www.lithophanemuseum.org

At the Toledo Botanical Gardens you will find the unique little museum called the Blair Museum of Lithophanes. Lithophanes are porcelain plaques when lit from the back show a detailed image. The plaques look pretty plain until light is shown through them. The museum was founded by Laurel Gotshall Blair. These lithophanes are his collection. He donated it to the city of Toledo and now it is housed in a museum at the Toledo Botanical Gardens.

The museum is not open every day of the week or all year. It is normally only open on weekends. As of writing, the museum is only open May through October, unless you are a paid group tour. When we went there was no charge for the museum. When entering the building we were greeted by friendly staff member who was very helpful and willing to tell us the story of the pieces. We learned the history of lithophanes, Blair, and the artwork. Probably without the guided tour our appreciation of the artwork would not be as great. So if asked if you want a tour, say yes.

The whole building is not huge, but there many lithophanes to see. They are hanging in the lights, on tables, in display cases and on the wall. The plaques were used in many types of lighting in the home, so the way they are used is vast. There are many ones lit up and some you turn on the lights behind them. The Blair Museum has the largest collection of lithophanes, so there are lots to look at. There are scenes of famous artwork, landscapes, people, religious figures and more. So not really one kind of picture on each piece.

The museum will not take long to see, but one should really slow down and inspect the artwork. A guided tour is a must. The museum is accessible to all, no real limitations on getting around the museum .

This is a hidden gem with a type of artwork that is not known by many. Now is the time to turn on the lights and explore the Blair Museum of Lithophanes.

Day Trips in Cincinnati

Are you planning to go to  Zinzinnati for Oktoberfest, but need something to do the next day? Have a day free and are wondering what to do? Here are some day trip ideas for Cincinnati.

Trip 1: A day at the park 

A trip to Eden park is a great way to spend the day, see the sights and not spend a lot of money.

  1. Echo Restaurant: a great place to get a quick breakfast before a long day of sightseeing
  2. Krohn Conservatory:  Located in Eden park it is a greenhouse that goes way beyond anything at the local flower shop.
  3. A picnic in Eden Park:  While in one of Cincinnati loveliest sites stop for a quick bite. Sit on the lawn, by the lake, or at the river overlook.
  4. Cincinnati Art Museum: The next stop is also in Eden park. One of the best art museums in the state.

 Trip 2: Signs in the Sky

An afternoon and evening trip to see the city in a different light.

  1. American Sign Museum: A museum dedicated to signs of all forms. With a working neon shop and more neon that one location needs. Last Tour starts a 2pm
  2. Arthur’s: One of the best burger joints in town. Grab a bite for dinner and then walk around Hyde Park.
  3. Cincinnati Observatory:  A great place to visit any time. See the stars at night or just see the telescopes during the day.

Trip 3: History on Display 

Important sites for two of America’s Presidents and a lesson on the struggle for freedom

  1. William Howard Taft National Historic Site: The home of one of Ohio 8 Presidents.
  2. The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center: A museum dedicated to freedom for all and the struggle of obtain it.
  3. William Henry Harrison Tomb and Memorial: The site official resting place of the first president to die in office. Also near-by is a marker for the Birthplace of his grandson President Benjamin Harrison.

Trip 4: Art – food for the soul. Food – art for the stomach

A walking tour of the heart of the city and all the art it has to offer. This walking tour can pass by Music Hall and many other great sites.

  1. Findlay Market: A historic market in Over The Rhine. A great place for breakfast or lunch.
  2. The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County Main Branch: Stop in for a book, or just to see the great art they have on display.
  3. Fountain Square: The heart of downtown. Stop and admire the fountain, see a concert, or grab a bite.
  4. Contemporary Art Center and 21c Museum Hotel:  Two free art galleries just down the street.
  5. Some of the many, many, many murals the city has: Way more than one could probably see in one day.

Trip 5: A ballgame and some sites

  1. A walk along the riverfront to see the Riverboats
  2. National Steamboat Memorial: A hidden treasure with hidden secrets worth finding
  3. Great American Ballpark: The home of the Cincinnati Reds OR Paul Brown Stadium: Home of the Cincinnati Bengals

Whole Day Themselves:

  1. Cincinnati Zoo: One of the Best Zoos in the nation (maybe start with breakfast at Sugar n’ Spice)
  2. Cincinnati Museum Center. When it reopens this will be one of the premier attractions in the area.

Cincinnati Observatory

3489 Observatory Place, Cincinnati, Ohio 45208

https://www.cincinnatiobservatory.org

We went to the Cincinnati Observatory on a sunny weekday afternoon, probably not the best day to go to an observatory, but we did get a laid back uncrowded personal experience. The Cincinnati Observatory is located on top of the hills of Mt. Lookout in Cincinnati. This Observatory is the oldest, still in use, in the United States. The observatory consists of two buildings. The two buildings house the main 11-inch Merz and Mahler refractor and the 16-inch Alvan Clark and Sons refactor. We visited the main building that house the 16-inch Clark telescope. The building was designed by the famous architect Samuel Hannaford. One can visit this observatory most afternoons during weekdays. These afternoons are reservation free.  There are many special events and astronomy nights on Thursdays and Fridays. These are the nights to look through the telescopes. There are also events on the weekends. Check out their website for these events and to make reservations.

The main building has a rotunda and two levels. The first level is a museum type of room. One can walk around the room at their leisure and look at the astronomy related artifacts. There are also daily tours (small cost) of both buildings. We did not take the tour, but lucked out and had a sort-of  guide tour of the Clark telescope. After finishing on the first floor, one can go to the second floor and look at the telescope. When we visited the friendly and knowledgeable staff gave us a tour of the telescope. Not sure if this is standard practice, but it was much appreciated. 

This museum/observatory does not take long to visit, but is packed with many interesting artifacts. It would be good to visit the telescope during the day, then return for one of the night time viewing. This would be a great place for kids, because it is highly education and just long enough to keep their attention. Kids would probably really enjoy the night time viewings. The place is not hard to find and access or out of the way. One major tip is to visit their website to find out about special events and open hours. A visit to the observatory can easily be added to a visit to another great Cincinnati attraction.

A day or night visit to the Cincinnati observatory is well worth it, even if you have little interest in astronomy or space.

 

Some of Ohio’s Unique Museums

The great thing about museums is they can be expansive or super small. They can be hyper local or focused on the world. Museums range form huge collections of various artifacts to someones collection of one focus. Museums involve the dedicated and the casual viewers. Museums can attract locals, casual tourists, or serious dedicated fans. Ohio has great vast institutions that attract people from all over the world. Ohio also has museums that are unique and should be highlighted. Some of these museums might not be known by all, but are really great attractions.

Here is our list of some of them:

Bicycle Museum of America

Paul A. Johnson Pencil Sharpener Museum

Ohio River Museum

Our review (click here)

The Museum of Postal History

National Museum of the Great Lakes

Our review (click here)

Ohio Craft Museum

Feline Historical Museum

Our review (click here)

Merry-Go-Round Museum

American Toy Marble Museum

Airstream Factory Tour (not a really a museum)

Our review (click here)

The Cardboard Boat Museum

Blair Museum of Lithophanes

David Warther Carvings 

Our review (click here)

Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum

The American Sign Museum

Our review (click here)

 

Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park and Museum

https://www.pyramidhill.org

Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park and Museum is a 300 plus acre outdoor sculpture park in Hamilton. The park is open all year and can be experienced differently during each season. There are many special events during the year and at times the park can be busy. The holiday lights, for example, are a very popular event.

This park was started by Harry T. Wilks, a philanthropist who was big in the Hamilton community. He purchased the land to build his home. Over the years he added sculptures, hiking trails, roads, and small lakes. Soon he also started purchasing the land next to his property. Wilks was a big donor too local arts and education organizations. In 1997 he created a nonprofit to protect the park from private developers who might break up the land and spoil the beauty.

The park is open during the daylight hours and the museum is open in the afternoons. It does cost to visit the park. One can stop at the front gate or visitor’s center to pay for entrance.  Using the map provided one can travel by car throughout the park seeing all the sculptures. This is the low activity way to see it. The medium activity level way is to drive around, park at the many parking lots, and then walk around. The higher activity level way is to park at one of the lots and walk the nature trails and road around the park. This park is accessible to just about anyone. The park also does rent Art Carts (golf carts) to tour the park. The length of time it takes to see the whole park depends on the mode of transportation and activity level. What is nice is the park can be done in a long or short amount of time.

What one will see when touring the park is over 60 modern outdoor sculptures. These are very large sculptures. Some are colorful and some are made of natural materials. Each one is impressive. Even if modern art is not to your liking, it is nice to see them and explore them from all angles. Each different side is like seeing a new piece of artwork.

The park houses an Ancient Sculpture Museum. The museum is open in the afternoons and included in the cost of admission. This museum house many ancient sculptures from Greek, Roman, Etruscan, Syrian and Egyptian cultures. If you’re a first timer to the park, a timing to stop at the museum is a must.

It must be mentioned, that the park can also be reserved for events and weddings. There are event venues throughout the park. The gardens are so popular that most good weather weekends have an event going on. From Butler Philharmonic concerts to fishing derbies to food festivals there is something for everyone.

No matter your ability level, this park will have something to see. So spend an afternoon this year visiting this park, you will not be disappointed.