Ohio Oddities: 9 Atypical Museums You Can Visit Throughout the State
By Brittani Rable
Posted On: Sep 17, 2018
Although we’re known for our sports teams and world-renowned amusement parks, there are also a selection of offbeat collections that can only be found in Ohio. From magick to medical marvels, here are a few wonderfully wacky museums to visit on your next day out.
1) The Lucky Cat Museum
Located in Cincinnati, Ohio’s Lucky Cat Museum is exactly what it sounds like, a collection of the iconic Japanese waving feline figurines. Originally beginning inside Micha (Michelle) Robertson’s home, the collection of now over 700 cats resides at Essex Place. The “Lucky Cat” (Maneki Neko) invites, well, luck into your life. Some cats found in the museum will even have two arms waving for double the fortune. You can even find a collection of Maneki Nekos from artists around the world.
The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 3:00 to 6:00pm. Admission is free, although donations are always graciously accepted. For more details, directions, and history on Maneki Neko, check out the museum’s site.
2) Buckland Gallery of Witchcraft and Magick
Located in Cleveland’s Tremont neighborhood, the Buckland Gallery of Witchcraft and Magick features artifacts collected from around the world by owner Raymond Buckland. Buckland started the museum in 1966 after becoming inspired from seeing the late Gerald Gardner’s collection on the Isle of Man and working for the British Airways allowed him to collect his own artifacts across the globe.
Beginning in Buckner’s basement and eventually moving to New York, New Hampshire, and eventually Cleveland, the collection includes over 500 artifacts ranging from Ancient Egyptian ushabti’s to pieces from the Salem Witch trials. The goal is to display the tools and imagery of Witchcraft & Magick, while celebrating the First Amendment and the power of outsider art.
To visit the Gallery yourself, check out the location’s hours. Admission is $5.
3) Dittrick Medical Museum
A part of Case Western’s College of Arts and Sciences, the Dittrick Medical Museum in Cleveland features all manner of medical history, ranging from surgical instruments and medical equipment to nursing uniforms. Among the whopping 175,000 artifacts, the museum’s specialty resides on the third floor. Here is a study of what illness and treatment looked like in earlier eras, including infectious disease crisis and management.
Additionally, you can find letters from Charles Darwin and volumes from Nicolaus Pol’s own library. Admission is free and the museum is open to the public Monday through Friday from 9:00am to 4:30pm and Saturday from 10:00am to 2:00pm.
For more details on planning your visit, check out the museum’s website.
4) The Paul A. Johnson Pencil Sharpener Museum
Harkening back to your elementary school days, this Hocking Hills collection is a perfect break from your hiking excursion. This little museum, located in the Hocking Hills Regional Welcome Center, consists of over 3,400 pencil sharpeners that Reverend Paul Johnson has collected over the past 20 years. It is reputed to be the largest collection in America and each piece is unique, with no duplicates in the museum.
According to Rev. Johnson, the collection began when his wife bought him two metal car sharpeners in 1989. Since retiring in 1988, he needed a new hobby and this gift opened up a new door. The museum is open Mondays through Saturdays from 9:00am to 5:00pm and Sundays from 11:00am to 5:00pm.
For more details, visit Hocking Hills’ webpage about the museum.
5) The Troll Hole
A Guinness Book of World Records holder located only 18 miles from the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Alliance,Ohio, the Troll Hole is home to over 20,000 troll items. In addition to the items, the Troll Hole is filled with waterfalls and grottos, telling the history behind trolls, from their start in mythology to their evolution into a child’s toy. Visitors will also likely get to meet Sigrid, the Troll Queen. Her big blonde hair and eclectic fashion won’t be hard to spot!
If the concept of this place wasn’t unique enough, snacks ranging from waffles to Troll Tears and Troll Poo can be found at the Toll Hole’s in-house coffee shop, Grumpy Troll Coffee. Whether you’re stopping in for a guided tour or a cup of joe, the Troll Hole is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10:00am to 4:00pm, with a small admission fee.
For more information on planning your visit, check out the Troll Hole website.
6) Sturgis House Mortuary Museum
Guests at the Sturgis House Bed and Breakfast in East Liverpool will find more than just a quaint Victorian suite to stay in. Located in the basement laundry room is a collection of mortuary instruments and even a death mask of notorious outlaw Pretty Boy Floyd’s face. How did a humble little B&B acquire such things?
In its past, the building was actually a funeral home, explaining the funeral-related paraphernalia. Turns out, upon Pretty Boy Floyd’s capture and execution here in Ohio, his body was brought to the nearest funeral home, which just so happened to be the Sturgis Funeral Home.
Whether you’re willing to plan a stay or just want to check out a bit of morbid history, the inn-keepers are always happy to let you in. To read up on what other guests have to say about the Sturgis House, head over to Facebook.
7) Museum of Divine Statues
If you’re up in the Cleveland area and have an interest in religious history, then the Museum of Divine Statues in Lakewood is the place for you. In this previous church, you will find a collection of Catholic statues and other Catholic artifacts such as communion rails, paintings, chalices, and more.
Started by Lou McClung in 2011 after restoring a Saint Clare of Assisi statue he picked up at a thrift store, the Museum of Divine Statues’ mission is to rescue artifacts from decommissioned local churches and restore them to their glory for preservation.
The museum gives tours to groups of 30 or more for $14 admission per person, although smaller groups may still be able to get a tour if the cost can be made up. Tours can be scheduled by calling the museum. Get all the information you need to plan your visit at the museum’s website.
8) Early Television Museum
For those who have an appreciation for the retro, the Early Television Museum in Columbus suburb, Hilliard, has a selection of television sets dating all the way back to the 1920s and throughout the 1950s. The Early Television Foundation was founded by Steve McVoy, who as a teenager worked in a television repair shop after school. In 1999 he sold his cable television business, was looking for something to do with his time, and decided to collect early television receivers.
As his collection grew, he found a need for more space to display it. Thus sparked the idea of starting a museum. McVoy donated his building to the Foundation and it remains a non-profit. Over 150 sets are on display at the museum, ranging from pre-war British sets to post-war American ones.
For those who find a particular interest in early television, there is an option to become a member of the museum. Directions and information about museum operations can be found on their website.
9) The National Barber Museum and Hall of Fame
Established in 1988 by Mr. Ed Jeffers, the National Barber Museum and Hall of Fame in Canal Winchester strives to preserve and promote the history of the barbering profession, dating all the way back to the pharaohs of old. Surely the experience of getting a classic cut and shave will bring a sense of pleasant nostalgia to patrons.
The museum features well-preserved barber chairs, as well as tools of the trade such as razors and tonics. You’ll even get to see some good old-fashioned barber poles. Admission varies per age group, but costs no more than $5 per person. History buffs can give the museum a call to schedule a tour. Visit the museum’s website for more details.
While visiting the big highlights of the state is fun and dandy, consider taking a trek off the beaten path and check out some of Ohio’s lesser known, but just as interesting experiences. Whether you’re a connoisseur of the odd and eclectic or new to the scene, you won’t want to miss out on these hidden gems.
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