Review

Places to go and things to see

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.

 

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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.

Scioto Audubon Metro Park

400 W. Whittier Street Columbus, OH 43215

http://www.metroparks.net/parks-and-trails/scioto-audubon/

In many cities there are parks that are urban oasis, where one can find a bit of nature. Scioto Audubon park in Columbus is one of these places. This is the kind of park on travels to, visits everyday, or visits when in Columbus. This 120-acre park is south of downtown on the Scioto River. So this park is easy to get to when visiting the city. It is filled with a dog park, climbing wall, volleyball courts, hiking trails, obstacle course, hiking/biking/walking trails, bocce court, fishing, boat ramps, butterfly garden, visitor center, nature center and more.

water tower water tower

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If one really wants to see the park or the surrounding area, there is an observation deck. This water tower observation deck has two levels and allows one to get some height to see the area.

The  Grange Insurance Audubon Center is housed in an eco-friendly building located in the park. This educational center has programs for all ages and groups. Many of the programs focus on birds and animals in the area and many people’s backyard. The building has exhibits inside for the general public to see, also. So a visit to the park, make sure to stop into the center.

Here are some great virtual tours of the center – http://grange.audubon.org/visit/virtual-tours

This park has great trails, which are one can lots of wildlife. Trails take one through the wetlands, open areas, over hills, and around waterways. These trails weave through the trails and some also connect the park with other parts of the city.

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The trails in the park are not only limited to the park itself. One trail is the start of the Scioto Mile. The mile runs from the park to just south of COSI. One of the most scenic trails and river walks in the state, if not the nation. The mile is more than just one or two parks connected. It is a destination in and of itself … (stay tuned for more on the Mile)

German Village Coffee Shop

193 Thurman Avenue,Columbus, OH 43206

www.gvcoffeeshop.com

Menu

The German Village Coffee Shop is a coffee shop in the German Village area of Columbus. The feeling of the place is comfortable, neighborhood hang out, old school, and inviting. It is a diner with booth and counter service. You can see your food being made right in front of you. The coffee shop is open for breakfast and lunch. Expect the place to be more popular on weekends. It is not huge, so one might have to wait. The food was very tasty and the coffee was good. One true test of diner, is if the coffee cup is keep full. Their was the right amount of attention to our needs. The menu consists of omelets, burgers, sandwiches, hotcakes, pancakes, and salads. The place is one of those neighborhood spots where people come in and know each other, this place was really showing this when we were there. The German Village Coffee Shop is a place to try out when visiting Columbus.

You can tell we liked the coffee

Do not worry the coffee cup was kept full.

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.

The Langsdon Mineral Collection at Mercer County Library (Celina Branch)

303 North Main St.
Celina, OH

http://langsdonminerals.org

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LangsdonMinerals/

The picture we posted for this collection does not do the place justice, we know this. It was hard to get a picture as the collection is all in glass cases. The collection is massive. There is something like 900 minerals in 21 display cases. We went to the Celina branch, so this number could be for the collection through out the library system, but still there were tons of minerals on display. The minerals were donated by Ron & Ruth Langsdon. This is part of their collection of minerals.

Thanks to the Langsdon’s their collection is on display for the public to see. Anyone can come into the library and enjoy the minerals. The display cases are housed in the same area of the library. One can easily walk down the aisles and see the minerals. There are also some cases at the end of the aisles of books. The minerals are laid out nicely in the beautiful glass cases. They are easy to see and each mineral is labeled. This collection is for the mineral hunter/lover and the novice. The do offer tours/presentations also for groups and students.

The best way to figure out the hours to visit this collection, is to check out the library’s website: https://mercerlibrary.org/celina/.

This was a real unique find and something that might only be found in a larger museum. Even, if you have no interest in rocks or minerals, check out this collection you will not be disappointed.

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.

Toledo Botanical Garden

5403 Elmer Drive, Toledo, Ohio 43615

https://metroparkstoledo.com/explore-your-parks/toledo-botanical-garden

Deer in the forested part of the park.

A great way to spend a few hours in the afternoon is to visit the Toledo Botanical Gardens. One can decide on how much of the over 60 acres to see. We like to walk, so we tried to see as much as we could. There is a diverse range of woodland to perennial gardens, herb gardens, and tree-lined walkways. The park is full of walkways, and the trails are also easy to walk on, so access over a large area of the park is accessible.. The trails are great for exercise if nothing else. This park is a great way to get in a few extra steps.  This is the perfect place if you have a few minutes of a few hours

tree-lined grand alley

There are some ponds and rivers throughout the park. This was a great chance to see wildlife. We were able to see lots of swans when we visited. There was also deer in the park. Much of the wildlife did not seem concerned with our presence and we able to get quite close.

The park also has concerts and events, through out the year. So multiple visits are a good idea.

The Artists Village house many small buildings that house many of the local community groups. Each building is open at different times and has different events. Go here for more information – https://artvillage419.org.

outdoor sculpture

If plants are not your thing, there are many sculptures thought out the park. We were amazed at the scale and size of many of these sculptures.

The Gardens also houses the Blair Museum of Lithophanes. Our tip is to visit the gardens when the museum is also open. You can easily do both in a few hours.

Tips:

  • Bring your walking shoes
  • Bring a camera
  • Check out their website for special events
  • Check out their website for plants that are blooming
  • Check out the Artist Village
  • Go at a time when the Blair Museum is also open
  • Plan to spend an hour or more (at the park), but you could spend all afternoon.
  • Be on the look out for wildlife
  • Bring your kids (if you have any)

This park is great for a few hours or a whole afternoon. The plant lover and the non plant lover will find some enjoyment.

Note: We probably did not include all to see and do at the park.