museum

Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park and Museum

https://www.pyramidhill.org

Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park and Museum is an 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, is 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 non profit to protect the park and the from private developers who might break up the land an 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 visitors center to pay for entrance.  Using the map provided one can travel by car the park seeing all the sculptures. This is the low activity way to see the park. The medium activity level way is to drive around and 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 not to your liking, it is nice to see them and explore them from all angles. Each different side is like seeing an new piece of artwork.

The park also has an app, that one can download. This app gives a virtual tour and audio tour of the park.

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 your 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 through out 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.

 

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Mound Cold War Discovery Center

1075 Mound Rd,
Miamisburg, OH 45342

https://www.daytonhistory.org/visit/dayton-history-sites/mound-cold-war-discovery-center/

Dayton Ohio and the surrounding area has a long history with inventions, technology, and war. The National Museum of the United States Air Force tells the story of the war. Dayton History at Carillon park tells the story of the technology. Now Dayton History has helped to preserve the history of a major component of technology in war. The Mound Cold war Center tells the story of the part Dayton played in creating some of the most destructive weapons ever used.

On August 6, 1945 the United States, while at war with Japan, dropped the most destructive weapon ever used. The Atomic Bomb was again used on August 9th. These two bombs ended the war and changed the world forever. The bombs were so powerful that they were developed under the most secret project of the early 20th century. The Manhattan Project, while most known for being at the Los Alamos Laboratory in New Mexico, had sites across the country. One such site was in Dayton, Ohio.

The Dayton Project was created to make the neutron initiator that would start the reaction process in the bomb. Many sites through out Dayton were used. The Dayton Project was the only portion of the larger Manhattan Project to be based in an urban area. At the end of the war the US Government decided to continue stockpiling weapons in case of future tensions. The weapons would need initiators, or triggers, and decided to keep making them in Dayton. Because this work was going to be done on a larger scale a suitable location outside of town was needed. A location was found near the ancient Adena culture’s burial mound in Miamisburg Ohio. The Atomic Energy Commission built its first site after the war and called it Mound Laboratories.

As tensions between the United States and the USSR grew into the Cold War, Mound Laboratories was in full swing. Later, as the stock pile grew large enough and the space race picked up the labs used the nuclear technology to invent a new type of battery. These batteries would be able to power a device for over 40 years. They were perfect for long duration space flight were battery replacement was not an option. Some of them have even left our solar system aboard the voyager spacecraft. The batteries are said to last until 2025.

Eventually the Mound Laboratories ended operations and the site was cleaned up. The buildings have either been taken down or turned into office space. A few of the building remained empty and workers from the labs decided to try and tell its story and preserve its history. The museum they created, while small, did a good job of telling the untold story. The times were not great and the presentation was a little haphazard. Eventually they joined forces with Dayton History to completely redesign the small museum. The New creation is the Mound Cold War Museum.

The Museum is a one large room with displays along the walls that tell the story of the mound. Using videos, pictures and artifacts the museum unfolds the work from the early days of the Dayton Project to the clean up and closure. Many of the displays are just text and pictures, or artifacts and text. Some however are larger interactive items, such as a working Geiger counter and a glove box. Upstairs is the archives with information on almost every worker at the mounds, and photos of the workers experience.

Overall the story gets across with out bogging down too much in the details. With the price of admission being free, it is well worth the price. Adding in a trip to the Miamisburg Mound across the street, and a stop downtown for lunch, one can easily fill a morning.

Glendower Mansion

Glendower Mansion
105 Cincinnati Avenue,
Lebanon, Ohio 45036
www.wchsmuseum.org/planvisit/glendower_historic_mansion-1

Just down the street and around the corner from the Warren County History Center  is this old pre Civil War mansion.
The mansion is part of the museum during the summer and December. It is a beautiful old building over looking Lebanon, yet still hidden away enough to be hard to fully see.

The Mansion is small and has only 8 rooms. The building is bigger than its structure. The history of the Mansion connects life during the 19th century and the 20th and 21st centuries efforts to preserve it. The tour is very informative and expands the eight rooms to the include the history of the land and Lebanon. The guides are very informative and willing to answer any questions. Take at least and hour to tour the Mansion and grounds. The view from the top of the hill is one of the best in the area. The Mansion and History Center can easily be done in one day with time for lunch at one of Lebanon’s many eateries.

Through out the year the Glendower puts on a few festivals and around the end of the season holds a civil war encampment. They even try to time it to fall during the Smithsonian’s Free Museum Day so that every one can enjoy it. In December they decorate the Mansion for the season. Both are very popular events.

 

Warren County History Center

Warren County History Center Museum
105 S. Broadway, Lebanon, OH 45036
http://www.wchsmuseum.org/planvisit/warren_county_history_center-2

While not as big as the Cleveland History Center, Carillion Historical Park, or the former Cincinnati Museum of History, the Warren County History Center Museum is large enough to tell the story of a town that once was on track to be larger than Dayton, Ohio.

The museum is more of a collection of historical artifacts than a straight story of the region. This works out well. A straight story would be interesting to some people but not much more than a few founders names. The collection of artifacts works to envelope the visitor in the era. The artifacts are so well arranged that they blend together into a theme more than stand out on a pedestal. The overall feeling is walking through rooms and lives from the early settlers to the roaring 20’s.

The basement houses the older collections. The first room is filled with early inhabitants artifacts and rocks from before any human was in the area. From there one steps forward into the cabin of the Butterworths, early settlers to the area. The cabin is on par with any living history museum in the state. The artifacts so well arranged and taken care of that it felt as if the father of the house was about to come back at any moment for dinner. Outside of the cabin room is a large collection of equipment that the settlers and early farmers would have used to conquer the land and turn Warren county into the agricultural treasure it has become. Surrounding the farm equipment are window displays that house artifacts from the time period. They are themed to every aspect of life from the mundane grooming to the occupational, like journalism, finance, and funeral arts. The lower level also contains the transportation wing with a collection of a few vehicles used to move people around through out the history of warren County. On the way out of the basement is the dark and forbidding Underground railroad exhibit. The dark room only has the sounds of the night time creatures and the light of a distant house. Slowly the lights rise to reveal a display on the work done by Warren county residents to help slaves from the south escape to freedom. Included are maps of stops on the underground railroad and displays telling about how Warren County and Ohio dealt with the issues leading to the Civil War. This room is a must see.

The first floor is the one of the largest rooms and is the “Village Green.” This room is set up with display windows around the outside that resemble a town center. Each display recreates a shop that would be found, with real artifacts of the citizens of the time. This is where the theming and curation of the museum really takes off. Each display is surrounded by a facade and filled with artifacts that make it feel like looking into a shop window. The back room of the first floor is the temporary exhibit space with an ever changing collection of exhibits.

Upstairs is a balcony that surrounds the “Village Green” with two main rooms on each side. The main balcony feels like an overflow for not yet used items, but the 2 side rooms are some of the best of the Museum.The front room contains the 1920’s era “house.” The “house” is just a collection of rooms with items from the era. Included are mannequins with period clothing. While the rooms could feel like just a spattering of items, as with the rest of the museum they are so well themed that one is transported to the era and location of a 1920 warren county big wigs estate. The back room is the Shaker exhibit. The exhibit is one of the best exhibits on shaker life outside of a dedicated museum. Each artifact tells the story of Union Village that was just 4 miles outside of Lebanon. “There is great beauty in harmony” was a saying of the Shakers and the exhibit’s simple but well documented form helps to recreate this simple way of life.

 One of the greatest parts of the museum was hidden through out it like a treasure hunt. The “Gruesome but Truesome” exhibit are small placards in the windows that tell the more macabre details of the items inside. The information is well placed and parents with small children do not have to worry about items scaring them. Teens and the more adventurous will love to read about the larger story behind the museums collection.

Over all the Warren County Historic Center is a medium sized county museum with nothing extreme or major to set it apart from the larger city museums. As we say “A museum must tell a story, not just be a collection of artifacts.” The center shines with what it does with what it has. Every artifact is carefully placed, maybe not to tell a story, but to transport the visitor back in time to a different era.

Stay tuned for part 2 of this post with the Glendower Historic Mansion.

Why is the NFL hall of fame in Canton?

The National Football League is the major professional Football organization in America. It honors its players with induction into its Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. With no team and the 130th in the nation for population size, the question is asked “Why is the NFL hall of fame in Canton?”

The first players to be payed to play football were  William Heffelfinger and Ben “Sport” Donnelly. They were payed by the Allegheny Athletic Association. By the 1920’s great players were payed ever increasing amounts. Some were even “poached” from other teams during the season with a higher salary offer. This led to confusion, bidding wars, and rising costs. Something was needed to be done.

On August 20, 1920,  in Canton, Ohio, representatives of the Akron Pros, Canton Bulldogs, Cleveland Indians, and Dayton Triangles, all Ohio based teams, formed the American Professional Football Conference. Later it would change its name to the American Professional Football Association, after adding more teams from across the nation. These teams worked out an agreement on player “poaching” and helped to stabilize costs and talent across the league. On October 3rd the Dayton Triangles defeated Columbus Panhandles in what is considered the first NFL game. On June 24, 1922, in a meeting held in Akron, Ohio, the APFA, became the National Football League.  For the next two years the Canton Bulldogs would win the league championship making them the first team in the NFL to do so.

Site of first NFL game, now a baseball diamond

Fast forward 40 years: The NFL had a long history and no Hall of Fame or other museum dedicated to it. Canton took this too heart. The local newspaper, the Canton Repository, pushed for it. They believed the only logical site was in Canton. It was the site of the original meeting. It had a historic powerhouse team. It was in Ohio the state where the first NFL game was played. The city was determined to get the Hall and on January 25, 1961 William E. Umstattd made a formal bid. A few months later the League agreed with what the city and awarded them the Hall. On September 7, 1963 the Hall opened and has been honoring players ever since.

Paul Laurence Dunbar House Historic Site

Photo By Chris Light at English Wikipedia

219 N Paul Laurence Dunbar St,
Dayton, OH 45402

https://www.nps.gov/daav/planyourvisit/paul-laurence-dunbar-house-historic-site.htm

Some places in Ohio are run by local history groups. Some places in Ohio are important enough for the Ohio History Connection to get involved. A select number of places in Ohio have even gotten the National Parks service to recognize them. One place in Ohio is run by the local, state, and national historical systems, The Paul Laurence Dunbar House Historic Site.

Paul Laurence Dunbar was an African American poet at the turn of the 20th century. He wrote in both dialect and standard English. Dunbar became famous as a poet after self publishing Oak and Ivy, his first book, in 1892. After the popularity of the book he began to tour around the state, then then the nation, and finally England.  At the height of his career in 1902 Dunbar bought a house in Dayton for his mother. After he started to suffer medical issues he moved in to the house with his mother. On February 9, 1906 in the house he had bought for his mother Paul Laurence Dunbar died of tuberculosis.

The House was bought by the state in 1936 and turned into the first state memorial to an African American. It was later in the century that people started to notice his works effect on the larger literary world. Maya Angelou even named her first book after a line in Dunbar’s poem “Sympathy.” In 1962 the house became a National Historic Landmark. 30 years later it was incorporated in to larger Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park when the park was created.

The Paul Laurence Dunbar House Historic Site is a small location with just the house and accompanying visitor center. The center contains a short film on the life of Dunbar, a few of his artifacts, and information about the history of the house. The House itself is a small 2 story building common of the area. Together the entire site can be visited in 1.5 hours.

While that may seem to small for a journey to the area, the House is only .5 miles from the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park’s Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center. The center contains more information on the life of the printers of Dunbar’s first Newspaper, Orville and Wilbur Wright. One could easily spend an entire morning visiting both the Paul Laurence Dunbar House and Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center, grab lunch at one of the areas great restaurants, and spend the heat of the afternoon walking around Woodland Cemetery where both the Wright Brothers and Paul Laurence Dunbar are buried. With the Carillon Historical Park, National Museum of United States Air Force, and the rest of the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park one could make a long weekend in Dayton. Even being rewarded if they go to enough places.

Memorial Day Road Trips

On the final Monday in May America takes the time to honor those who died in service to its armed forces. This tradition started in 1868 when former Civil War soldiers decided to decorate the graves of fallen veterans. While the custom is a long held tradition around the world, this time was different. So many soldiers had died in the recent Civil War, and so many families effected, that having a single day to do this helped to bring larger importance to the act. It wasn’t until 1971 with the enactment of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act that the day created a yearly 3 day weekend.

To honor the veterans who gave it all here are some road trip ideas that have a military background. Some can be completed in one day some might take two. A great site to learn more about Ohio historical places and come up with you own trips is http://touringohio.com

Northwest Ohio and the War of 1812:

Fallen Timbers Battlefield and Fort Miamis National Historic Site  – Fallen Timbers was the site of a major battle between American Indians and the newly formed United States of America. At the treaty of Paris in 1783 Britain gave the USA all of the land east of the Mississippi River. This include the Ohio Country. The American Indian tribes living in the area felt that they had no representation in the matter and that the land was still theirs. This led to the Battle of Fallen Timbers. At this battle American Soldiers fought the natives who were supplied by British from Fort Miamis. The defeat of the American Indians led to the Treaty of Greenville (see Garst Museum Below).

Fort Meigs – This fort with stood 2 attacks from the British and defended the Ohio country during the War of 1812. This is a full standing fort with a visitors center.

Rutherford B Hayes Presidential Library and Museum: The home and Museum of The former Civil War General and 19th President. For more information see our review.

Southwest and the Civil War

William Henry Harrison Tomb – The resting place of the 9th President and Ohio Indian Wars Veteran. He was the first president to die in office and is still the short serving person to have held the office. See our review here

National Underground Railroad Freedom Center – This museum is dedicated not only to the Underground Railroad and the struggle of American Slaves, but the struggle of all people for equality, even in modern times. The museum is a powerful testament to the struggles that lead to the Civil War.

William Howard Taft National Historic Site: The birthplace and boyhood home of the 27th President. Governor of the Philippines following the Spanish American war, Secretary of War, and Commander in Chief gives this site some great military background.  See our review here

Land of Grant Grant Birthplace and Grant Boyhood home and School House – The 18th President and commander of the Union armies during the civil war. Visit where he was born, grew up and learned. See our review here.

West

Fort Jefferson – The site where St. Clair retreated after his defeat.

Garst Museum – Dedicated to the history of Darke county this museum tells the story of the Treaty of Greenville and the role it played in shaping Ohio. A nice large museum with lots of artifacts from the area. See our review here.

Fort Recovery – The site of the two largest and most important American Indian battles, The Defeat of St. Clair and the Battle of Fort Recovery. St. Clair had 900 of his 1200 men killed, about 1/4 of the US army. It is also the site of the fort that was built after the battle. It was this fort that allowed the US to win the next battle and led to the signing of the Treaty of Greenville.

Northeast

Fort Steuben – Built to protect the surveyors of the northwest Territory. The Fort has a visitor center, full wood fort and large grounds surrounding it.

Fort Laurens – Site of the only Revolutionary War battle in the state.

McCook house – Home of the “Fighting McCooks.” Major Daniel McCook and his 9 sons and 6 nephews fought before and mostly during the Civil War.

The McKinley Presidential Library & Museum – The Tomb of William McKinley, the 25th President, and commander and chief during the Spanish-American War. Next to the tomb is the Library and Museum which house exhibits on the natural world, Stark County, and the life of the president. See our review here. 

Garst Museum

205 North Broadway, Greenville, OH 45331
http://garstmuseum.org/home.php

What’s larger than a bread box?
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The Garst Museum in Greenville Ohio is larger than your average local history museum. This museum, while not as big as Carillon Historic ParkCleveland History Center, or the former Cincinnati History Museum, is not small. The multiple wings of the building are crammed full of interesting artifacts and history.

The museum starts by telling tp09-24-16_12-08he history of the most famous event in Darke County, the signing of the Greenville Treaty. The treaty was not signed right as either side entered the area, but after societies were built and battles fought. The museum does a great job of setting up that history. With plenty of artifacts of the time and information to describe and explain the use of the artifacts. So much information that it can almost get overwhelming. The Garst fortunately uses multimedia displays to break up the text and to give a bit of living history too.

Darke County did not end on August 3, 1795 and neither does the museum. The museum continues on to tell the story of two of the areas most famous children, Annie Oakley and Lowell Thomas. The Annie Oakley National Center houses pieces of Annie’s own effects. Not just the guns she fired as a famous sharpshooter in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show, but clothes, jewelry,  souvenirs, trophy’s and so much more. The center helps to break apart the myth of Annie Oakley as tomboy and show her real life as complicated as it was.

The Lowell Thomas section tells the life of the globe trotting man who made Lawrence of Arabia famous. The Garst Museum goes beyond the story of the desert and tells the whole life of the man from birth, with the Lowell’s Birthplace outback, to his death.

p09-24-16_12-55Most of the rest of the museum is dedicated to the history of Darke County as an average American county. Inside of small rooms set along the walls are vintages of American life. Displays of what a kitchen, beauty shop, dentist office, and more would look like are filled with actual artifacts from said places. Along with the small rooms is another large room filled with more leftover pieces. This room is a great place for grandparents to take kids and teach them about the items they saw in their grandparents houses or even used themselves.

The upstairs houses one of the best displays of military uniforms in the state. With cases of uniforms and other memorabilia from almost every war the country has been in. All donated by local citizens or their families.

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The Garst Museum in Greenville works hard to live up to the “Best History Museum” award it was given by the Ohio Magazine and it shows. This museum is a great visit for people of all ages, even if you don’t live in Darke County.

Downtown Miamisburg

http://exploremiamisburg.com

Miamisburg, Ohio is the only one in the world. The outer areas of the city house many of the chain/big box stores of the southern Dayton area. The downtown region is quite the opposite. It holds the soul of the town.

Downtown Miamisburg has shops and restaurants like most 100_1173downtown regions in Ohio. Many of the places sell food and food related products, or ways to burn off the food. The selection of restaurants is similar but varied.  The world famous Hamburger wagon being one of the most well known. With in walking distance are there are more burger joints, barbecue places, a pizza parlor, and ice cream shops. A unique candy shop, cupcake shop, and donut shop round of the meal with a little bit of sweet.

Afraid the calories are adding up? Rent a bike and ride on the one of the world’s best bike ways. A large portion runs along the river and through the downtown area. Many of the shops actually cater to bikers. Want to know what other outdoor activities the area has to do. The local outfitters can tell you. These are just a few of the shops and boutiques operating downtown.

Not in the mood to move much? Take in a show at one of the area entertainment venues. See classic movies at the Plaza Theatre, it’s hard to miss the giant sign. During the Summer the city offers free music by the river almost every week, with most weekends having a festival too. While the city is great for families, the ‘burg caters to the adults too.

Plenty of bars, and two breweries are great place to meet people and hang out with friends. A few of them have live music. Through out the year the city sponsors events aimed at the kid in the all adults. The most popular is Boo in the ‘Burg, a chance for adults to go trick or treating in their own way.

Before leaving the downtown area make sure to check out the historic areas too. Two small museums, a walking tour and a historic Mound tell the story of the region. The Miamisburg Mound is one of the most visible objects in the city and was created by thousands of years ago by the early inhabitants of the region. The Daniel Gebhart Tavern Museum is dedicated to the early settlers of what would become Miamisburg. The Mound Science and Energy Museum, now working with Dayton History on a new education center, details the secretive work done for the government. The Mound Laboratory was a nuclear facility that started after the end of WWII. The Laboratory built triggers for bombs and later the batteries for the space program.

Food, fun, and entertainment can all be found in downtown Miamisburg. Come for a meal, stay for the day. It is one of Ohio’s many treasures.

Fort Ancient

6123 St. Rt. 350
Oregonia, Ohio 45054

Website: http://www.fortancient.org/

Quick Review: Historical museum with lots of walking trails to explore more history.

Fort Ancient is a museums and grounds representing the Native American cultures which once inhabited the area. It contains a museum and surrounding grounds.

The history of the area is long and complicated. The first people to build a village at the site were the Hopewell people. They were a mound building society, which they inherited from the Adena. Some of the best examples of this are at Hopewell Culture National Historic Park. The Hopewell Culture only lasted till the 500’s. About 500 years later people of the Fort Ancient culture took over the site and used th area until the arrival of Europeans. It is because of the walls and mounds that the first archaeologist to study the area thought that the recent inhabitants had used it as a fort. Only recently has it be understood that the walls and the later village were from separate unrelated cultures.

img_0386The museum offers 9,000 sq ft of exhibit space. There are exhibits on the first Ohioans, how they used the land, their first contact with the Europeans, and the conflict which ensued. There is also a prehistoric garden, showing all the crops that would of been grown during the time There are lots of hands on exhibits.

Fort Ancient is not just a museum but also and great outdoor space. It is the largest outdoor historic site of its kind in the country. There are 2.5 miles of walking trails. These trails allow one to see the historic mounds and also the surrounding countryside.  There are two overlooks that give a great view. The trails are easily accessed from parking lots through out. The park is nice because what is learned at museum can be experienced in the natural setting. The maps and dioramas in the museums show off where everything used to be, so seeing this outside really adds to the overall experience.

Tip: Fort Ancient is worth a visit on its own, but is also part of the Ohio History Connection and is free with Membership