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young boy standing behind and leaning over to look into an exhibit table display inside the University of Findlay Mazza Museum in Ohio

Best College Museums in Ohio

What better way to celebrate 'Back to School' season than with a visit to a museum at one of Ohio's colleges!

University of Findlay's Mazza Museum

Best College Museums in Ohio

By Ohio.org Staff

Posted On: Aug 15, 2022

Sharpen those pencils, get out the highlighters, and crack open that textbook ... it's back to school season! And with today being National Back To School Prep Day, what better way to get into the academic mindset than by checking out unique museums that can only be fond at Ohio's college campuses. 

Check out these top ten one-of-a-kind spots that showcase everything from art, fossils, to textiles. 

replica of the Cryolophosaurus ellioti dinosaur skeleton inside Ortan Hall part of Orton Geological Museum at The Ohio State University in Columbus Ohio
"Elvisaurus" inside Orton Hall. Photo credit: Orton Geological Museum, Facebook

Orton Geological Museum at The Ohio State University in Columbus 

Pretty much every Freshmen orientation at OSU makes a stop at Orton Geological Museum. As the oldest free public museum in Ohio, built in 1893, the museum resides inside one of the campus' most distinctive buildings (and not because the bell tower). The stones making up the walls of Orton Hall are arranged so that if you pushed the building underground they would chronologically be in the correct order. 

Inside, you'll find more the one million rock, mineral, and specimens to learn about. And as you walk up the steps, say 'hello' to "Elvisaurus." The Cryolophosaurus ellioti fossil was discovered by an OSU professor and now a replica of the dinosaur skeleton stands inside the museum -- ready to greet and welcome visitors! 

Richard M. Ross Art Museum at Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware

Ohio Wesleyan's Ross Art Museum features art from all over the world, including works by famous artists like Picasso, Frank Stella, and Alfred Stieglitz. Visitors can walk through their collection of over 2,500 works and check out exhibits, which often highlight and connect to OWU's academic areas of interest. The museum also has a second art space, Gallery 2001 (inside Beeghly Library), that hosts exhibits. 

college students and adults walking through gallery room at the Miami University Art Museum in Oxford Ohio

Miami University Art Museum in Oxford 

The MUAM sits on three acres of a sculpture park (open all year) on the university's breathtaking campus. Inside, you can explore five galleries which are home to exhibits and a collection of over 17,000 pieces of art. Glimpse pottery and ceramics, or read up on what's new thanks to the Art Museum's blog and their bi-annual publication: Visual Arts at Miami Magazine

Gund Gallery at Kenyon College in Gambier 

If you're looking for Contemporary art, then look no further than Kenyon's Gund Gallery. The art gallery and museum spotlights multidisciplinary interests like the visual arts with films, performances, and other showcases. You can take a tour of the space thanks to students and staff (who both give and put together exhibits). After all, the Art History department calls the Gund home -- which is why you'll also find classrooms, an auditorium, and studio space inside. 

The building's unique look is also a work of art. It features lots of open space with high ceilings and skylights, perfect for inspiration and admiration for the arts. 

clothes on an exhibit display inside the Kent State University Museum in Kent Ohio

Kent State University Museum

Founded 40 years go, the Kent State University Museum houses an exceptional collection of textiles, historic outfits, and fashion pieces. There are exhibits which draw attention to different aspects of the decorative arts, but the highlight is the Gallery of Costume. This area of the museum features fashions from the 18th, 19th, and 20th century. 

Cincinnati Skirball Museum at the Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion

The Skirball Museum on HUC's campus in Cincinnati is one of the oldest spaces to house Jewish cultural pieces in the US. And when it was founded in 1913, it also became the first formally established Jewish museum in the country too. The newly renovated Mayerson Hall holds their core collection, but there are also new exhibits that educate and showcase Jewish art and culture. If you can't visit in person, try out their Virtual Tour - which lets you "walk" through the museum (as if you're there IRL). 

preteen girl standing in beteeen young boy and young girl showing a picture book at the University of Findlay Mazza Museum in Ohio

University of Findlay's Mazza Museum

Take a look, it's in a book at University of Findlay's Mazza Museum. The Mazza Museum holds the world's largest collection of original artwork from children's book illustrators. It's the perfect for place to bring the kids - or to embrace your inner child! With six galleries and over 300 works of art, you'll find so much to explore and discover about art and reading. 

The National Museum of Psychology at The University of Akron 

Part of UA's Cummings Center for the History of Psychology, this museum explores what it is that makes you tick. When you check out this museum, you can pursue interactive exhibits on memory and personality, as well as some of Freud's home movies, and other historical artifacts. There is also a permanent collection and rotation exhibits that explore everything from how the profession of psychology to its impact on popular culture.  

people standing and looking at art inside the Kennedy Museum of Art at Ohio University in Athens Ohio

Kennedy Museum of Art at Ohio University in Athens 

The KMA at Ohio University in Southeast Ohio's Athens, is home to a collection of artwork that aims to enrich cultural life. And while you can explore inside the museum's collection and exhibits, the building exterior casts its own spell. Part of what's known at "The Ridges," this High Victorian Italianate building originally housed the Athens Asylum for the Insane. Constructed in 1868, this building, part of Lin Hall, was opened as a museum in the 1990s. 

And while there are no ghosts currently on display, it is a space where past and present come to create a unique experience for visitors and students alike. 

Dittrick Museum of Medical History at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland

Part of the Dittrick Medical History Center of the College of Arts and Sciences at Case Western, this interesting  museum offers a self-guided experience where you can learn about the history of health and medicine. Look at a collection of letters from Darwin, marvel at the Blaufox Hall of Diagnostic Instruments, and explore collections highlighting medical artifacts.  

There's so much to learn and discover when you visit Ohio's unique attractions. 

For more museums and arts & culture in Ohio, check out #OhioFindItHere at Ohio.org

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