Tuesday, September 7, 2010

McKinley Presidential Library and Museum, Canton OH

This is part 3 of our field trip, the unplanned part. After we struck out at Zoar Village, we had some extra time to do something else. We had seen the William McKinley Museum earlier and decided to go there and check it out. We had a great time.
We arrived there only an hour and a quarter before closing time. I asked the lady at the desk if we could see enough of the museum in that time and she assured me that it would still be worthwhile. This Library is not part of the Ohio Historical Society, so we had to pay admission. They charge $7 for adult, $6 for Seniors, and $5 for children. She did give me a discount based on the goodness of her heart and only charged me $22 to get our gang in, instead of $39. It does pay to ask. Incidentally, this library has reciprocal privileges with a number (over 300) of science museums.
We had a marvellous time! As we started into the museum we weren't sure where to start. We began wandering into the history section. Suddenly, an older gentleman, with a gleam in his eye and childlike enthusiasm, (and a guide badge on) accosted my children and wanted to show them all the neat things in the museum. It was a real blessing from the Lord! He demonstrated a number of different pictures on the stereoscope.

He showed us the 'transitional piano', one of only five in the whole USA. He played it and told us how it was the transition between the harpsichord and the piano. He told us the story of how this transitional piano was bought for a little boy's fifth birthday and cost his parents $1,000. Back when men were only earning a dollar a week. The gentleman also played an old Gramophone for us. We got to see and hear some neat things.

Then he took us to the vacuum powered lift chair. This portion of the museum was sponsored by local businesses and their products. (Hoover, in this case)

Timken, the bearing manufacturer, has sponsored the spinning tea cup for the children to ride in. It is to demonstrate how smooth their bearings are.

Since this is the William McKinley Museum, there are several displays dedicated to him. They have electronic robot reproductions of them that talk together and to the 'visitors'. They had his desk there and a number of other items and paintings. I also read that Mrs. McKinley took to making slippers after William died. I remembered that one of the items at the Hays presidential museum, was a pair of slippers made for him by Mrs. McKinley. Kinda neat.

Our guide took us into some of the exhibits that you were only to look at from the door and allowed us inside them to show us some of it up close and let us touch it. The museum tells as much about Canton OH, as President McKinley. They have a life sized village built, with all the stores and offices, of downtown Canton in the 1920s. They even had a fireman's pole for the children to slide down.

They have a huge model train display with the trains running. This set up is made of different scenes from the Canton area in the first half of the 1900's. It took eleven men five years to build it. (I think they may have only worked on it in their spare time.) It is pretty amazing. Our guide went to the control panel in the center and turned it all on for us to see. Our time was quickly running out so we needed to go down to the Science portion of the museum. (We had 19 minutes left until closing).

The Museum has a planetarium and a movie about McKinley that we didn't get to see. Not enough time. The Science Museum is in the basement. They had a dinosaur dig and ecological center with live reptiles. They also provided activities (scavenger hunts) for the children, but we had no time to check it out.

They had a number of different activities that are pretty common to science museums. The children liked the 'Shadow Catcher' exhibit. There were more exhibits that we liked, but we were really racing through at this point as they were announcing that the museum was closing in a few minutes (4 PM).

Outside of the Museum, is the Mckinley Memorial. The top is where they have buried President and Mrs. McKinley and the two of their daughters who died in infancy. There is a long stairway up to the Monument. The children counted 108 steps. It reminded me of the training scene in 'Rocky'. There were also some football players running up and down the steps to complete the image. T-Bob went up and down the steps several times.

If you are in the area, I would say that this is a great way to spend a few hours (2.5-3 to see everything). If you can find a tour guide to show you through, it is even better! It really was a blessing.

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