As a young child, I remember visiting many entertaining and educational museums on behalf of my school and parents. I never forgot how much I learned at each museum, and the memorable experiences I had with hands on experiments and learning games. Whether you are a teacher or a parent you can plan educational and fun museum trips with little effort. Brush up on history, art, science, news, and lots of other things at these ten museums located along the upper east coast of the United States. Whether you are in New York or Washington D.C. there are many museums that you can visit with children to get a fun and educational experience.
1. Newseum – Arlington, Virginia
In 1997 the Newseum was opened in Arlington, Virginia. The Newseum details the history or the news and media. Inside the Newseum you can investigate stories, watch news clips and documentaries, become a journalist and shoot a segment, or play interactive computer games. There is even a journalist memorial for those that have died capturing the news.
The Newseum located at 1101 Wilson Boulevard will be closed to the public in fall of 2005. The Newseum is relocating to Washington D.C. and is slated to open in the spring of 2006. For more information you can call 1-888-NEWSEUM toll free, or you can visit their website at http://www.newseum.org.
2. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum- Washington D.C.
The Holocaust Museum is located near the National Mall, south of Independence Avenue, SW, between 14th and 15th Streets. Right near Raoul Wallenberg Place. The Museum building was designed with Holocaust architectural illusions that are interpreted differently by all visitors. The Holocaust Museum strives to educate the public and remember those who were murdered during the Holocaust. The Holocaust Museum is open everyday except Yom Kippur and Christmas.
At the Holocaust Museum you can visit the Survivor’s Registry, Children’s Tile Wall, the Hall of Remembrance, Remember the Children Exhibit, or the Museum Café. You can also visit the permanent exhibition The Holocaust. The Holocaust exhibition is a self guided tour that most people spend 2-3 hours completing, and chronicles the time period of 1933 to 1945. Entering the Holocaust exhibition can be quite moving and disturbing for some people but is a solemn educational experience. This is one museum you will not forget.
3. The Farmers Museum – Cooperstown, New York
Whether you are young or old, everyone enjoys the Farmers Museum in Cooperstown, New York. Open only in the fall and part of winter, The Farmers Museum is located in Central New York 70 miles west of Albany and 30 miles south of I-90, exit 30. The Farmers Museum can also be accessed by train and shuttle bus. In October and November, guests can take self guided tours from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. usually, a week or two before Christmas there is also a Candlelight Evening from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
At The Farmers Museum you can get your hands on history and learn how farming provides food by cooking in the kitchen, working in the barn, growing food, feeding animals, and milking cows. Each exhibit has a 10-15 minute detailed presentation by costumed workers. At the Farmers Museum you can learn how the farming industry has changed in the last 200 years. Adults can enter for $7.50, children for $5.00, and children under 6 are free.
4. The Gettysburg National Battlefield Museum Foundation – Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
The Gettysburg Museum is located on hundreds of acres of Pennsylvania State Park land, historical areas where battles actually took place during the American Civil War. The site of the Gettysburg Museum is the location where President Lincoln gave his Gettysburg Address. The Gettysburg Museum contains over 38,000 artifacts and over 700,000 civil war artifacts like guns, uniforms, and documents.
The Gettysburg National Battlefield Museum is located 50 miles north of Baltimore in Pennsylvania. The State Park lands surrounding the museum include more than 40 miles of trails where events like “Pickett’s Charge” took place. You can either take an air conditioned bus tour of the area, a foot tour, horseback, or bicycle tour. In the museum you can watch videos and documentaries, as well as take self and guided tours.
5. The National Air and Space Museum – Washington, D.C.
This museum is also near the National Mall in Washington, D.C., located at Independence Avenue at 4th Street S.W. The National Air and Space Museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. except for Christmas. Admission is free, but you must walk to or take a shuttle bus to the museum because there is no area parking.
Inside the National Air and Space museum you can view hundreds of original artifacts like the Wright 1903 Flyer, the Columbia, and the Spirit of Saint Louis. There are over 20 exhibition galleries, a museum shop, food court, and Albert Einstein Planetarium (admission is $1 extra). The National Air and Space Museum offers daily free educational programs and activities for people of all ages. Children (and others who want to learn) can visit the How Things Fly Exhibit, Space Race, Apollo to the Moon, Milestones of Flight, or Explore the Universe Exhibits and learn the history of flight in America.
6. Independence Historical National Park – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
If you want to stop and visit the Liberty Bell or Franklin Square than you shouldn’t miss the Independence Historical National Park. The park is located on Market Street between 5th and 6th streets. Many of the buildings in the park are open all year with varying hours.
The Independence Hall houses the historical Liberty Bell, and is a self guided tour. Once inside the Independence Hall you will hear a recording telling the history of the Liberty Bell. If you walk around the corner at 318 Market Street you will find the Ben Franklin House. In 1786 Benjamin Franklin knocked down two old properties and built tenant apartments. Today, people still live in the apartments, and you can visit Ben Franklin’s home. The tour through Franklin Court is self guided and quite interesting. The Ben Franklin House, located at the back of Franklin Court has been refinished in the original style of Ben Franklin’s time. In the Ben Franklin House you can see where Ben Franklin lived and worked.
7. Ellis Island Immigration Museum – Ellis Island, New York
From 1892-1954 Ellis Island was open for immigration to America. In 1965 Ellis Island was declared part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument. In 1990 Ellis Island was reopened as a public museum. Just take a short ferry ride from Battery Park in New York or from Liberty State Park in New Jersey to Ellis Island. The 10,000 square foot museum is located in the main building where immigrants first stepped onto American Land.
Inside the Ellis Island Museum you can also visit the Baggage Room, the Registry Room, the Wall of Honor, and the Gift Shop. You will also get the chance to view the “Island of Hope, Island of Tears” movie documentary chronicling the history of Ellis Island. You can also search your ancestry with the Ellis Island genealogical record search.
8. The Corning Museum of Glass – Corning, New York
If you are interested in the art, history, and science of glass making the Corning Glass Museum is the place. The Corning Glass Museum is located in the Finger Lakes Wine Country region of New York, exit 46 off interstate 86. The Corning Museum of Glass is open 7 days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and until 8 p.m. in the summer. Adult admission is $12, Students and seniors- $10, and children under 17 are free. There is also free parking onsite.
Inside the Corning Glass Museum you can watch live glassmaking and flame work, visit the walk in work shop, or participate in hands on learning by making your own piece of glass. In the hands on innovation center children of all ages will learn the art of glass making and the history of glass. When you are through visiting the museum you can also visit the Glass Café and Coffee Bar.
9. Naval Academy Museum – Annapolis, Maryland
The Naval Academy Museum is located 55 miles east of Washington, D.C. in Annapolis, Maryland. The Naval Academy was built in 1939 and is located at 118 Maryland Avenue – exit 24 off Route 50. The Naval Academy Museum can also be accessed from interstate 97. The Naval Academy Museum is open from 9a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, except Thanksgiving and Christmas, and admission is free.
Inside the main building you can view 4 different exhibits like the Beverly R. Robinson Gallery that contains more than 6,000 nautical prints and the naval art reserve. You can also see the Ship Model Gallery to see 17-19th century model war ships like the 96 gun ship – Saint George. Inside the Naval Academy Museum you can also visit the 100 Years and Forward Exhibit.
10. The Roberson Museum and Science Center – Binghamton, New York
The Roberson Museum is a multi-purpose educational center that caters to school trips and family events. The Roberson museum is open in the winter and spring from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and admission for children 4 and under is free. Admission for adults is $6 and $4 for students and seniors. Inside the museum you can see a planetarium show, visit the museum shop and café, as well as take a self guided or guided tour.
The Roberson Museum and Science center has many hands on learning experiments and games for children of all ages. You can also take a tour of the old shoe factory that used to be owned by the Endicott Johnson Corporation during the early 19th century. The Roberson Museum and Science Center is located at 30 Front Street, and can be accessed using interstate 88 or 81, US 17, and Route 12.