I’ve mentioned in a couple of previous posts that my brother and I were homeschooled growing up. We didn’t have a ton of money to spend when it came to field trips, so we stayed pretty close to home. One of my favorite places to visit was the William McKinley Presidential Library and Museum, located in Canton, Ohio. I personally believe that the McKinley Museum has something for everyone!
McKinley Gallery Collection
Of course, a presidential museum should have presidential items. In the McKinley Gallery Collection room, a wide variety of memorabilia is housed, telling the story of President McKinley’s life. Photos, letters, personal items and furniture can be found in this section of the McKinley Museum. There are even life-sized, animated mannequins fashioned to look like William and Ida McKinley in the room that “interact” with visitors and welcome them into their home.
The McKinley Gallery at the McKinley Museum features the largest collection of William McKinley memorabilia in the world. This gallery tells William McKinley’s life story, from his birth to his assassination. It is a great educational experience for children as well as adults.
Ida McKinley’s Tiara
In 2014, the McKinley Museum achieved a significant, long-time goal. A diamond tiara that had belonged to Ida McKinley was sold to the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop, the site of History Channel’s “Pawn Stars.” The owner, Rick Harrison, agreed to sell the tiara to the McKinley Museum for his purchase price of $43,000. Generous donors lined up to help the museum purchase the tiara, and it is now on display in the McKinley Gallery Collection. It’s a sight to behold and definitely something you should be sure check out if you visit the McKinley Museum.
The museum goes far beyond a “life and times of the 25th President of the United States,” though. There’s so much more to this museum, making it a true gem!
Natural History Island
In Natural History Island, visitors can go on a scavenger hunt as they explore the natural history of the world, from way back when dinosaurs roamed to right where we are now! This area features an authentic mastodon skeleton, whose remains were found during excavation and construction for a local apartment building. It’s so cool to know that dinosaurs really roamed this area!
This section of the museum has many interesting things to see and explore:
- • Giant dinosaur figures
- • Skeletons of a saber tooth tigers and a mammoth
- • A huge timeline explaining the different stages the earth went through
Ecology Island, housed in an imitation white oak tree, has fun interactive activities where kids can learn about the ecology systems of surrounding areas, from Nobles Pond to the Jackson Bog. A native This section of the museum hosts a collection of animals, including snakes, birds, and rodents. A replica Paleo-Indian hut is also displayed here, honoring the tribe that made Noble’s Pond home 11,000 years ago. Ecology Island teaches about the importance of eco-systems while engaging visitors in hands-on activities.
Space Station Earth
In Space Station Earth, visitors get the chance to examine popular experiments and find out how and why things work. There are robotics, experiments demonstrating the different types of power, a shadow-catcher, and even a car built by a team from my school, Stark State College! My family found great entertainment in the green screen that allows visitors to pretend to be meteorologists and news reporters.
The Hoover-Price Planetarium is an awesome feature of the McKinley Museum. This planetarium enables visitors to experience the excitement of outer space by using over 60 projectors to show meteor showers, asteroids, constellations, phases of the moon and more! Showings during the week are reservation-only, but on the weekends public shows are held Saturday at 1:00 pm and Sunday at 2:00 pm.
The Stark County Story
In the Stark County Story section of the McKinley Museum, visitors get to learn the history about William McKinley’s home county. Over 200 years of history are preserved in photos, audio, and other memorabilia. The display includes visual and interactive displays. Have you ever thought of riding a sweeper? The Hoover Company, based in Ohio, has an awesome sweeper-powered chair on display and visitors can ride in it! Another local company, Timken, which produces ball bearings and other industrial parts has a ride which lets guests spin around in a giant Timken bearing.
Street of Shops
Out of all the exhibits of the McKinley Museum, I believe that the Street of Shops is the most unique. There’s an entire town inside the museum building. Visitors can walk the streets of a time way back when, listen as the townsfolk go about their daily lives, see how people lived, and listen to narrators tell stories about the town.
In the Street of Shops exhibit of the McKinley Museum, you can visit the dentist’s office, or check in at the hotel, or stop by the general store to pick up your mail. You can do all of these things and so much more.
This Street of Shops is definitely suited for all ages – there are fun things for kids to explore and interesting things for adults to experience. This was my grandparents’ favorite section of the McKinley Museum – my grandpa even slid down the fire pole!
As I said, I used to come to the McKinley Museum on field trips when I was growing up. It is such a great place and a big part of my childhood. I highly encourage you to bring your children so that they, too, can have this experience (and so you can, too!) Even if you don’t homeschool your kids, it’s a great place to visit: there’s no such thing as getting too much of an education!
Interested in Visiting?
Location800 McKinley Monument Dr NW Canton, Ohio 44708
Tickets for adults cost $9, $8 for seniors (60+), and $7 for children between the ages of 3 and 18. Children 2 and under are free.
The McKinley Presidential Library and Museum is open Monday-Saturday 9:00 am – 4:00 pm, and Sunday noon to 4:00 pm.
You can visit the website here for more information on the McKinley Museum.