Join me as I visit the sites in the Ohio History Connection network! This month's road trip took me to the Ohio History Center in Columbus.
This month’s road trip wasn’t really a road trip for me! My office is located in the Ohio History Center, so I get to walk past Conway the Mastodon and see our two-headed calf every day. But the Ohio History Center is a road trip for many of our members, so I thought I’d take some time to explore the museum from the perspective of a new visitor. I had a great time and was reminded of how lucky I am to work in this building.
Address: The Ohio History Center is located at 800 E. 17th Avenue in Columbus. We’re right off I-71 at the 17th Avenue exit. Parking is free and easy, thanks to our gigantic parking lot.
How much time: I would plan about 1-2 hours at the Ohio History Center. There’s a lot to see and interact with, so you’ll want to give yourself plenty of time.
My favorites: I have two favorite exhibits. The first is the Lustron House in the 1950s—Building the American Dream exhibit. The Lustron is an actual, full-sized house, complete with furniture. It’s a great way to really get a feel for what it was like to live in the 1950s. I brought my parents to visit, and they had a ball poking around the Lustron House. They saw a lot of items they had grown up with and loved getting to share stories with me about their childhoods.
My other favorite is the Indigenous Wonders of Our World exhibit, which explores the Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks, eight ancient earthworks in Ohio that are on the United Nations’ World Heritage List. I’ve lived in Ohio almost my whole life and I knew close to nothing about these amazing earthworks before I started working for the Ohio History Connection. This exhibit is a thorough introduction to these extraordinary landmarks. You’ll learn about the ancient American Indians who built them and their precise knowledge of astronomy and geometry. You’ll be inspired to get out there and visit these sites!
You can check out all of the Ohio History Center’s exhibits here.
Truda's Tips: Be sure to take a close look at the building itself. It’s hard to miss the unusual architecture. If you want to impress your friends, you can tell them that it’s a prime example of Brutalism. Definitely look up at the ceiling when you’re on the second floor Plaza.
Also make sure to visit our gift shop. We carry a wide variety of books, jewelry, candy, puzzles, posters, mugs and other items. I LOVE the locally made t-shirts we offer. It’s the first place I look when I’m shopping for a unique gift for friends and family. You can also check out the store online.
Kid Friendly? Absolutely: The Ohio History Center is very kid friendly. There are a lot of interactives for kids throughout the museum that enhance the information in the exhibits. I especially like Discovery Park in The Nature of Ohio gallery. You can also stop by the Front Desk to pick up a scavenger hunt to turn your visit into a game.
On the practical side, there are bathrooms throughout the museum, lots of snacks and kid-friendly food in the Plaza Café and some fun toys in the gift shop. And you know how some museums make you feel like you should whisper and tiptoe around? Well, you won’t find that here. Kids can be kids–we want them to feel welcome and comfortable.
Lunch: If you visit the museum between 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Wed.-Fri. or 12 p.m.-4 p.m. Sat.-Sun., you can get a bite to eat at the Plaza Café on the second floor. The Café offers a variety of grab and go sandwiches, wraps and salads, as well as bagels, chips, cold drinks, coffee and tea, and cookies. I may see you there! I’m a little addicted to the cookies, so I often pop up to the Café to see what flavors we have.
For more information: To learn more about the Ohio History Center, you can visit our website. The Center will be closed for cleaning and maintenance from January 2-12, 2024, but will reopen on Saturday, January 13 at 10 a.m. You can also call our Front Desk at 800.686.6124. Our Visitor Services Associates are always happy to answer your questions! We’re normally open Wed.-Sun., 10 a.m.–5 p.m., but are open certain holiday Mondays, such as MLK Day and Presidents' Day.
Want to make a day of it? Discover everything Central Ohio has to offer at Experience Columbus.
Ohio History Connection members enjoy free general admission to the Ohio History Center, as well as our 50+ other historic sites and museums. Visit ohiohistory.org/join to become a member!