Last week, I shared some of my top favorite STEM Education Museums and Centers across Ohio. Here’s what I shared on my Facebook and Instagram accounts in case you missed it!
National Museum of the United States Air Force: Located just outside of Dayton, Ohio.
The museum is located just outside Dayton, Ohio at the Wright Patterson Air Force Base. This museum has the oldest and largest military aviation collections in the world. It’s pretty incredible. I personally loved being able to view the World War II collection to see the types of planes that my Grandfather flew in during the war. I also loved seeing some of the former Air Force One planes. Very unique and incredible collection. And it’s FREE admission!!!! Go check it out!
Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal: Located in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio.
The museum is located in downtown Cincinnati and is a one stop for everything science, history and architecture. It just completed an entire remodel last Fall. This is truly one of my favorite buildings in Ohio.
Inside you will find the newly renovated and designed Museum of Natural History, the Cincinnati History Museum, the newly opened Neil Armstrong Space Exploration Gallery, the Omnimax theater and the Holocaust and Humanity Center and the local children’s museum, not to mention numerous special exhibits throughout the year.
The art deco design of the building itself is a wonder in itself that’s worth exploring. If you haven’t been there, it’s time to make a trip and check it out. While you’re in Cincinnati, taste some local favorites like Graeters ice cream located inside the museum! If you make it there during Christmas time, check out the incredible train display!
COSI: Located in Columbus, Ohio
The museum is located in Columbus, Ohio. It is likely if you’ve been to Columbus, you’ve been there too. It is very well known throughout the state.
They have wonderful science demonstrations and incredible changing exhibits that are mostly designed in house at the museum. We personally love the little kidspace (pictured). My kids have spent over two hours here. It’s a great one tank trip from Cleveland and Cincinnati. If you’ve been there, what are some of your favorite memories?
Cleveland Museum of Natural History: Located in Cleveland, Ohio
I love the Wildlife Center and Woods Garden at this museum. In this area, you can view 5 diverse ecosystems found in Ohio, along with the animals that are found there. Each animal was found as part of rescue and rehabilitation efforts and none of them are able to be released back into the wild so they call the museum habitats their home. Along the paths you’ll find surprising built in play areas for kids to explore.
We also love the Planetarium and Observatory. They offer wonderful and educational kids shows on space and the cosmos.
Inside the museum some of our favorites are the Earth quake demo and the gems collections as well as, Balto. If you haven’t been there, consider checking it out the next time you are in Cleveland.
The Great Lakes Science Center: Located in Cleveland, Ohio.
It’s one of my favorite Cleveland, Ohio museums and it is located right on Lake Erie.
They offer the BEST STEM Education programs and exhibits that I’ve found in this area. My space loving 4 year old loves the Nasa Glenn visitor center. We also love the entire second floor with tons of fun experiments for kids and adults alike, as well as the children’s area.
Their exhibits are top notch! We’ve seen Trains, Grossology and now Vroom! We walked away with a wealth of knowledge everytime.
We always find great quality experiments and learning opportunities like the one above that we saw recently to explain matter.
The Cleveland community is fortunate to have such a wonderful resource in this area. Check them out on your next trip to Cleveland. You won’t leave disappointed, but likely a bit more curious!
What are you waiting for? Go check them out! Where should I go next?
When I walked inside the newly preserved Cincinnati Museum Center (CMC, previously Union Terminal), the dome inside literally took my breath away. I grew up in this city. I walked through these doors NUMOROUS times in my lifetime but I had never seen it look this beautiful.
After more than two years of the main building being closed to the public for historical restoration and preservation, it recently reopened (in November 2018) and I got my first glimpse inside over the Thanksgiving holiday.
Every city has at least one old building that serves some historical, architectural and engineering significance to its city. This building is one of those for Cincinnati. Union Terminal was built and dedicated in 1933. It was opened as a train station to unite all the railroads to one location in Cincinnati. It is still the largest half dome structure in the western hemisphere and if you walk inside, your breath will be taken away at its beauty. It has absolutely stunning art deco architectural design, which includes several original large glass tile mosaics by Winold Reiss (seen in the photos below), which were carefully and intricately cleaned to bring out the marvelous details in the pieces.
Mosaics across the dome on the inside of the museum.
Mosaics across the dome on the inside of the museum.
The amount of architecture and engineering used to build and restore this building over its 85 years is just phenomenal. Our family spent so much time just exploring and marveling at the building itself – its engineering design and layout as well as it’s art deco style.
It was almost demolished many times, in fact, (unfortunately) its concourse was demolished years ago.
Historical Restoration and Reopening
The restoration was a $225 million project that was primarily funded by local tax payers over the course of a 5 year levy and additional funding was provided by federal and state historical tax credits as well as a capital grant from the state of Ohio. It was completed on budget.
This particular building also has many personal connections to me and my family. My great grandfather worked on the railroads and took my grandmother to the station many times as a young girl. My grandfather walked through the doors as young teen to head off to fight in the Air Force in WWII and also returned to this station after the war. (I couldn’t help but imagine myself in his shoes as a young soldier walking through the doors to and from a war that is still marked as the biggest event in human history.)
One of my uncles helped preserve the beautiful glass tile mosaics that were moved from the demolished concourse to the Cincinnati Northern Kentucky Airport. My parents came to the terminal for field trips as children when it was still a train station, converted to a science center, a shopping plaza and then took my brother and I to the Cincinnati Museum Center once it opened in the 1990s. I made many trips there as a child to view the exhibits and OMNIMAX films with my family and for school field trips. I also used to go downtown every year as a child to see the Duke Energy Holiday Train display which is now in the museum for Holiday Junction. This display has been part of Cincinnati since 1946!
This place holds a special place in my heart with countless happy memories from childhood and its historical connection to my family.
The Museum of Natural History and Science: Newly Opened Dinosaur Hall
The Museum of Natural History and Science reopened with a new Dinosaur Hall. It is located to the right of the main doors as you walk into the Museum Center. (It still has the original sign a top the doors indicating the location for incoming taxis and motor coaches!) As we walked through the doors, we were greeted by 6 ginormous dinosaur specimens!
My three year old daughter was absolutely amazed by their size. She (and I) gained a better appreciation for paleontologists and the scientific work that they perform. We loved using the microscopes to look at some of the prehistoric pieces up close. The special effects inside the hall were so fun! It made it feel like we were truly walking among the dinosaurs in the museum!
This exciting interactive globe allows guests to see how the Earth transformed from prehistoric ages until now! There is a tiny star on it that represents Cincinnati. Did you know that Cincinnati was located on a coast at one time?
While we were there, I decided to test out the Jurassic Flight Virtual Reality Experience where I was transformed into a Pterodactyl and glided across prehistoric landscapes. It was SO much fun and a little ptero-ffying at times!! This part of the exhibit is an extra cost to visitors (it cost $6 for me as a non-member) and you must be at least 58 inches tall. It was worth it! Afterwards, I pointed out to my daughter that virtual reality systems are made by many different scientists!
The Cincinnati History Museum: Re-imagined Public Landing
The Cincinnati History Museum has reopened with one of it’s original exhibits – the reimagined Public Landing. Public Landing is a recreation of 1850s Cincinnati Public Landing. We walked along the city cobbled streets, visited several makeshift shops and storefronts including an old style photography studio where we were able to take a family photo.
We walked across the gang plank aboard the “Queen of the West”. Inside we learned about how steam boats pushed across the Ohio river, what it was like to be a guest on the boat and how the boat business affected the local Cincinnati economy at that time.
Another exhibit, Holiday Junction, which is open for the holidays was a really fun place for the kids to go and explore.
We first walked through the new William L. Mallory, Sr. exhibition gallery which currently has a winter wonderland LEGO gallery on display. My three year old particularly loved the Disney themed LEGO displays and my one year old loved the LEGO train that ran through the middle of the exhibit hall.
My daughter almost quite literally walked through a winter wonderland, watched Thomas and friends train layout, built a snowman under the Northern Lights and rode a toddler sized train. To build the snowman, my girls were able to select various snowman pieces (eyes, various fruits / vegetables for noses, hats, scarf, mouth, coal buttons, etc.) and they magnetically connected them to the life sized snowman.
Below you will see the two snowmen they created… The first snowman they made was pretty fun and goofy. They loved sticking eyes all over the snowman to make him look silly and finished off his look with a banana on his head!!
We probably spent 20 minutes in this area alone because they were having so much fun! This really brought out their creative side and they had a small lesson in magnetism(which I plan to cover as a future topic)! The magnetic pieces only ‘stuck’ to certain areas of the snowman, so we had a great talk about why that was happening.
Next, we viewed the Duke Energy Holiday Trains. Upon entering, this space has a dramatic birds eye view of the entire space (which is ginormous!). My photo doesn’t even do it justice!
There are literally hundreds of trains flying around on tracks through a historic layout of Cincinnati. There are also trains in display cases along the walls for guests to view up close. This area was a dream for my three year old who is completely mesmerized by trains right now. She was so excited to name the parts of the trains that she recognized and loved telling us when one was zipping down the track nearby!
My daughters also loved being able to “make their own storybook”. Children are able to select magnetic words and photos and place them on a giant storybook to make their own story.
Again, this was wonderful for building creativity and learning a bit more about magnetism.
The Duke Energy Children’s Museum
By the time we reached the Children’s Museum, we were tired. Although we didn’t check out this space for long, we have spent hours here in past visits. It definitely receives my STEM stamp of approval and my kids thumbs up for fun!
Kids can learn about complex machines in Energy Zone, experiment with water, play pretend careers in several areas (veterinary, mechanic, etc.), climb and explore the wilderness, practice being a dentist and explore a giant set of teeth, etc. They also have a nature trading post where kids can bring in objects they’ve found outside and explain what they’ve learned about it for points. Those points can be used to select some type of scientific item for them to take home like a magnifying glass, rocks, etc.
Lunch at the Museum
We ate lunch at the museum and we were highly impressed by the cleanliness and the delicious, healthy and allergy friendly food options! If you are gluten free or have nut allergy, they definitely have you covered!
This was the lunch I shared with my husband – turkey avocado sandwich (optional gluten free bread) with tater tots! It was served on a real ceramic plate too. And my daughters had macaroni and cheese with goldfish crackers and applesauce.
The photo on the left is the dining room we ate in. It was so clean and well staffed. It had beautiful art deco design and murals on the walls. Very 1930s style for sure.
The museum is reimagining the exhibit spaces and experiences for guests and reopening the new permanent exhibits and galleries in phases. We viewed all of the new permanent exhibits and galleries that were available at the time of our visit.
We are greatly looking forward to the next phases opening up at the museum and can not wait to return!
Please follow the Cincinnati Museum Center@cincymuseumon social media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) to stay up-to-date on the latest news and permanent exhibits being opened to the public.
Additional Areas Explored
I posted additional photos from the museum that we checked out in the bottom of this post – the Rookwood Ice Cream Parlor, a Newsreel theater, more dining rooms, bulletin board, waiting area, STEM classrooms and more photos of the dome and outside. There is so much more to explore in this building than what we were able to see during our visit. We can’t wait to get back to explore more!
DISCLAIMER: I received 4 complimentary passes to the Cincinnati Museum Holiday Junction, Museum of Natural History and Science, the Cincinnati History Museum and the Duke Energy Children’s Museum on the day of our visit. I was asked to help promote the updates we enjoyed at the museum on my social media pages and my blog. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.