Top Ten History Museums
The Henry Ford and Greenfield Village
This museum is far too large to visit in just one day! The Henry Ford Museum contains such amazing artifacts as the chair President Abraham Lincoln was sitting in when he was shot at Ford’s Theater, John F. Kennedy’s presidential limousine, the Rosa Parks Bus, and the futuristic Dymaxion House. Greenfield Village features authentic buildings where history happened, including the Wright Brothers’ Cycle Shop, Thomas Edison’s laboratory, and the home where Noah Webster wrote the first American dictionary. There is also an IMAX theater, train rides, and a carousel.
Smithsonian National Museum of American History
This remarkable museum is full of national treasures. Visitors can view gowns from America’s First Ladies, the Star Spangled Banner that inspired Francis Scott Key to write our national anthem, and Julia Child’s entire kitchen from her Cambridge, Massachusetts home. Pop culture artifacts on display include Kermit the Frog, a pair of Apolo Ohno’s speed skates, and Archie Bunker’s armchair from the show “All in the Family.” The museum was recently renovated and is a must-see when you’re in Washington, DC.
Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum
The Air & Space Museum contains some of the most significant aircraft in American history, including the Wright Flyer, Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis, and the Apollo 11 command module from the first lunar landing. Air & Space boasts the largest collection of historical aircraft and spacecraft in the world.
Some of nation’s most cherished documents are preserved and displayed at the National Archives. In the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom, visitors can see the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States, and the Bill of Rights. The Public Vaults exhibit features 1100 records, including photographs, film clips, drawings and maps, organized into five themes drawn from the Preamble to the Constitution: We the People, To Form a More Perfect Union, Provide for the Common Defense, Promote the General Welfare, and To Ourselves and Our Posterity.
National Museum of the United States Air Force
Adjacent to Wright Patterson Air Force Base, the National Museum of the United States Air Force is located in giant airplane hangars big enough to accommodate some very large aircraft! Airplanes from World War I and World War II are placed in context with mannequins and landscaping, rather than just rows and rows of aircraft. Visitors can board a bus (after making a reservation using a photo ID) to the Presidential Aircraft and Research and Development/Flight Test Hangars located on the base itself. Several past Air Force One planes are on display, including the one that carried President Kennedy’s body back to Washington.
Baseball Hall of Fame
The Baseball Hall of Fame is a world-renowned museum that captures the spirit of the sport for fans and non-fans alike. The reverent Hall of Fame features bronze plaques mounted in a large hall. The rest of the facility is housed in a modern museum building with outstanding exhibits on the history of baseball. Exhibits examine Babe Ruth’s career, women in baseball, the African American experience, baseball art, and baseball cards. Other attractions, including the Farmers’ Museum and the Fenimore Art Museum, make this quaint village on Otsego Lake an ideal family vacation spot.
Women’s Rights National Park
Seneca Falls, NY and Waterloo, NY
There is no better place to appreciate women’s history than the Women’s Rights National Historic Park! The complex includes five sites: a modern Visitors’ Center, the Wesleyan Chapel, Elizabeth Cady Stanton House, Hunt House (in Waterloo), and the M’Clintock House (in Waterloo). Together these museums tell the story of the first ever Women’s Rights Convention in July 1848. The Wesleyan Chapel, site of the actual convention, was recently reconstructed.
Corning Museum of Glass
The Corning Museum of Glass features the best collection of art and historical glass in the world! The permanent collection contains more the 45,000 pieces of glass, representing 3500 years of history. But this museum isn’t just an endless display of glass. It features live glassblowing demonstrations, hands-on activities that tell the story of glassmaking, and an opportunity for visitors to make their own glass.
National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center opened in 2004 after ten years of planning. The museum honors a system of cooperation among African American slaves, free African Americans, abolitionists, sympathetic Whites and Native Americans who helped slaves escape to freedom. This informal system of escape routes originated in the South and extended to the North, into the western territories, and also to Mexico, and the Caribbean. Exhibits include an authentic slave pen, an interactive experience for kids, and the Hall of Everyday Freedom Heroes.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Located on the shores of Lake Erie, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is the premiere museum for all things related to the genre. There is A LOT to see. Each gallery is jam packed with rock and roll memorabilia, including artifacts from Metallica, Elvis, the Rolling Stones, Michael Jackson, the Who and so much more. A word to the wise: this museum is LOUD so come prepared for a sensory overload that you won’t soon forget!
Post your favorites in the Museums Forum!
You Should Also Read:
Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historic Park
Senator John Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center
Three Must-See Small Museums
Editor's Picks Articles
Top Ten Articles
Content copyright © 2019 by Kim Kenney. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Kim Kenney. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Kim Kenney for details.