There’s one place in Columbus that just doesn’t get all of the hype it deserves.
The Ohio History Center is such a gem on so many levels. From its iconic architecture to the treasures that are on display within, the center showcases so many things to love about Ohio.
The state has a rich history and you get to see some of the highlights in an afternoon spent at both the Ohio History Center and Ohio Village. We’re going to go more into depth on all of the best things to do and see at the center here in a bit, but first, let’s get those frequently asked questions answered!
Frequently Asked Questions
How much are tickets to the Ohio History Center?
Tickets are $13 for adults, $11 for seniors and college students (with ID), $7 for kids ages 4 through 12, and free for kids 3 and under. Ohio History Connection members can also enjoy free admission.
Does the ticket price include the museum and Ohio Village?
Ohio Village is included with admission to the Ohio History Center. Advance tickets are available but not required.
How long does it take to walk through Ohio History Center?
It can really take as short or as long as you’d like, but we recommend giving yourself at least 2-3 hours to explore.
Where is the Ohio History Center located?
The Ohio History Center is located at 800 E 17th Ave, Columbus, OH, 43211, at the intersection of I-71 & 17th Avenue (Exit 111).
Is the Ohio History Center family-friendly?
Yes! There are tons of exhibits that visitors of all ages can enjoy.
History of the Ohio History Center
When Ohio History Connection was first founded back in 1885, it was known as the Ohio Historical Society. For a time, the Ohio Historical Society had a home at the Ohio State University. It wasn’t until the mid-1960s that a bond issue brought the historical society to a new home.
The brutalist building we all know and love was created by architect W. Byron Ireland and completed in 1970. Described as “no doubt the most architecturally significant public structure built in Ohio since the State Capitol,” in Architectural Record, the building is instantly recognizable.
While the shape of the building may not immediately evoke a “museum” vibe, it really is a unique representation of Ohio. The shape of the building was inspired by a typical Ohio frontier block house.
The brown color comes from the Ohio silo tiles that make up the exterior of the building. And the sloping mound that the building sits upon is meant to evoke the ancient earthworks built by the first residents of the area.
The museum within the Ohio History Center showcases Ohio’s history from the ice age to the modern day. Exhibits feature a variety of topics including Indigenous history, natural history, WWI, the 1950s, the history of Ohio sports, and more.
Now that we’ve got all of those burning questions out of the way, let’s take a deeper dive into some of the most exciting exhibits on display.
Indigenous Wonders of Our World — The Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks
In the Indigenous Wonders of Our World exhibit, visitors can learn about The Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks, a series of ancient earthworks throughout the state.
Walking through the exhibit, you’ll learn how ancient American Indians used both astronomy and geometry to align the earthworks with moon and sun cycles. You will also have the chance to view 2,000-year-old artifacts that help paint a better picture of what these sites were used for by ancient people.
The eight ancient earthworks featured are candidates for the United Nations’ World Heritage List.
The Nature of Ohio
Ohio has a rich natural history, and it’s all on display at the Ohio History Center. The natural history section is divided into themes including plants, animals, geology, geography, and climate.
Visitors will be able to see everything from rocks and minerals to displays of locally extinct animals. The most magnificent of which has to be the gigantic Conway, a reconstructed Ice Age mastodon skeleton that towers over the museum.
1950s- Building The American Dream
One of the most colorful areas of the museum is the section that focuses on mid-century American Life. In this exhibit, you can fully immerse yourself in one of the most iconic houses of the era: a fully furnished, reconstructed Lustron Home.
Fully immerse yourself in mid-century American life! The 1950s – Building the American Dream features a fully furnished, reconstructed Lustron home that you can explore and investigate. When you are done exploring the Lustron house you can learn more about the 1950s through videos and panels featuring the recollections of Ohioans who grew up in the era.
Ohio Village is the living history museum portion of the Ohio History Center. The village showcases everyday life in Ohio during the 1890s. There are villagers and artisans throughout the village where visitors can hear fascinating stories. You can also tour the buildings and homes and even participate in some 1890s-themed activities.
One of the absolute best things about the Ohio History Village is the seasonal events they host on the village grounds.
Holiday Activities at Ohio Village
In October, you can visit for Ohio History Center’s Halloween celebrations. The 1890s-style family fun at All Hallows’ Eve includes a retelling of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by the bonfire, pumpkin carving, fortune telling, crafts, games, and more. All Hallows Eve will be occurring every Saturday beginning on October 7 and running through October 28.
Things really kick off at Ohio Village for the annual Dickens of a Christmas celebration. This 19th-century holiday celebration brings Charles Dickens’ festive vision of Christmas to Columbus.
A variety of holiday characters will be on-site, including Santa Claus, St. Nicholas, Jacob Marley, Ebenezer Scrooge, Krampus, and more. There will also be music, period-appropriate dancing, and tons of activities. You can learn more about Dickens of a Christmas right here.
Overall, the Ohio History Center is one of those spots that never seems to get the attention it deserves. If you’d like to start planning your visit, please go to ohiohistory.org.
Featured image via Ohio History Connection Facebook