12 More of the U.S.A.'s Most Unusual & Interesting Museums
Visiting museums is one of the nation's favorite pastimes,
with over half a billion people (at least 865 million, according
to the American Association of Museums (AAM)) checking them
out each year.
In our last article, we described 12
of the most interesting and unusual U.S. museums out there
-- like the American Hop Museum, Seashore Trolley Museum,
and Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center. But it was so
hard to narrow it down -- there are an estimated 17,500 museums
in the United States, after all -- that we decided to feature
12 more, and here they are.
A Shaker cupboard circa 1840 at the Hancock Shaker
Village in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.
1. Hancock Shaker Village
This living history museum has 20 historic buildings set
on 1,200 acres of farm, field, meadow and woodland, dedicated
to educating the public about Shaker life. There are 22,2000
objects on display, including Shaker furniture, crafts and
household items, along with the only Shaker Round Stone Barn.
Visitors can explore a working farm and restoration of an
1860 Shaker waterpower system, and kids can take a lesson
with a Shaker "schoolteacher."
2. HealthSpace Cleveland
The first museum of its kind dedicated to "improving
community health, preventing disease and promoting wellness
through education and creative partnerships." There are
many hands-on, interactive exhibits, well-equipped labs and
numerous learning theatres devoted to teaching health education
in an entertaining way.
They also have a distance-learning program that has reached
over 45,000 students in 25 states and three foreign countries.
3. Spam Museum
The 16,500 square-foot SPAM Museum opened in September 2001.
There are a variety of interactive and educational games,
fun exhibits, and video presentations devoted to the SPAM
family of products.
4. Heard Natural Science Museum and Wildlife Sanctuary
The center includes a 25,000 square foot science museum, a
289-acre wildlife sanctuary, with tall grass prairie, bottomland
hardwood, and limestone escarpment, a native plant garden
and nature trails for hiking.
The museum has exhibits on Texas' venomous snakes, rocks,
minerals and fossils, seashells and marine life, North Texas
ecosystems and more. There is also a "Living Lab"
where children can explore actual specimens.
Exhibits being renovated include a walk-through wetland diorama,
a cave with geology displays and a children's fossil dig,
and a marine room.
5. Gilcrease Museum
Gilcrease Museum is home to the world's largest and most comprehensive
collection of American art. There is also a one-of-a-kind
collection of Native American art and artifacts and a hands-on
exhibit dedicated to the art, culture and history of Mexico.
Among the over 360,000 items at the museum is an impressive
collection of historical manuscripts, and there is an emphasis
on the discovery, expansion and settlement of North America,
along with the Western frontier and American Indians.
Gilcrease also has unique, historically themed gardens that
span 23 acres. The grounds reflect gardening styles and techniques
from five American West time periods including Pre-Columbian,
Pioneer, Colonial, Victorian and Rock.
San Francisco, California
Zeum is a non-profit multimedia arts and technology museum
where families can explore animation, digital technology,
electronic media, and traditional and non-traditional materials.
Use of creativity, innovation and the imagination is encouraged
as kids of all ages create their own high-quality stories,
movies, performances, music, art and more.
A 3/4" scale model of a five-ring circus at the
Barnum Museum in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
Visitors can create a clay animation piece, create and star
in their own music video, experiment with digital art and
7. Barnum Museum
The museum is committed to the preservation and interpretation
of Bridgeport's industrial and social history, and also depicts
the extraordinary life of P.T. Barnum, creator of "The
Greatest Show on Earth."
Among their vast collection is a 1,000 square foot, 3/4"scale
model of a five-ring circus -- considered to be one of the
most spectacular carved circus models in the country -- an
Egyptian mummy named Pa-Ib that is over 2,500 years old, and
Baby Bridgeport, a 6'8" 700-pound mounted elephant --
the second to be born in captivity.
8. Buffalo Bill Historical Center
The Buffalo Bill Historical Center -- five museums in all
-- calls itself the "voice of the American West"
and is regarded as America's finest western museum. It focuses
on these five areas:
The Buffalo Bill Museum: Examines the personal and public
lives of W.F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody.
The Whitney Gallery of Western Art: Presents an outstanding
collection of masterworks of the American West including
paintings, sculptures and prints.
The Plains Indian Museum: Features one of the country's
largest and finest collections of Plains Indian art and
artifacts. Includes artifacts from the Arapaho, Crow,
Cheyenne, Kiowa, Comanche, Blackfeet, Sioux, Gros Ventre,
Shoshone and Pawnee.
The Cody Firearms Museum: Contains the world's most comprehensive
assemblage of American arms, as well as European arms
dating to the 16th century.
The Draper Museum of Natural History: Integrates the
humanities with natural sciences to interpret the Greater
Yellowstone Ecosystem and adjacent intermountain basins.
9. Octave Chanute Aerospace Museum
Prince Aly Khan's Rolls Royce at the Forney Museum
of Transportation in Denver, Colorado.
Chanute Aerospace Museum, located in the former Chanute Air
Force Base, is the largest aerospace museum in Illinois, and
is home to over 30 aircraft on display.
The Chanute Air Museum collects, preserves, exhibits and
interprets aviation and aerospace artifacts. Special emphasis
is directed to the life and accomplishments of Octave Chanute,
Chanute Field/Chanute Air Force Base and its technical training
programs, the history of Illinois aviation, and the community
of Rantoul, Illinois.
10. Forney Museum of Transportation
The Forney Transportation Museum is a one-of-a-kind collection
of over 500 exhibits relating to historical transportation.
It began with antique cars, but has expanded to include vehicles
of all kinds including buggies, bicycles, motorcycles and
other rare and exotic vehicles.
11. The Lace Museum
The Lace Museum is a non-profit organization and one of only
two museums devoted solely to lace in the western part of
the United States. The museum showcases an extensive collection
of lace and lace tools, lace examples, books and other materials
covering the history of lace. The Lace Museum also provides
on-going lace-making classes with experienced instructors.
12. The Pacific Tsunami Museum
The Pacific Tsunami Museum features a series of in-house
exhibits that interpret the tsunami phenomena, the Pacific
Tsunami Warning system, the history of tsunamis in the Pacific
Basin, tsunamis of the future, myths and legends about tsunamis,
and public safety measures for tsunami disasters.
It also provides a living monument to those who have lost
their lives in past tsunamis by combining scientific information
with actual testimony from oral histories. The museum is intended
to become the Worldwide Center for Tsunami Research to foster
national and international tsunami research.
of the U.S.A.'s Most Unusual & Interesting Museums
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