Ohio Historical Center

The large, abstract concrete and black building you pass by when traveling south on I-71 near exit 111 is the Ohio History Center Museum. Ohio Village is located in an area behind the imposing structure. I've always liked the building and it's one of my favorite in central Ohio from an architectural standpoint.

After walking in the lower level to get tickets and a brochure, visitors get a taste of what they're in for with a diorama featuring fossils, butterfly and bug specimens, books, maps, glass, ceramics and tapestry.

After walking into the atrium, you see the large mastadon and can learn more about what types of foods it ate in an adjacent exhibit area. A large collection of taxidermy animals, fish and birds can be found in a nearby exhibit. The exhibit also covers other fossils and a collection of minerals and stones including large pieces of quartz and pyrite. Visitors can do hands on learning about minerals and rocks in the rock and mineral hunt area.

Another area shows artifacts from ancient indigenous people and figures in Ohio, such as Gen. Anthony Wayne, up to more modern times. In between, you can see everything from a partial log cabin to a trolley used at the Ohio State Fair. One of the things that stuck out and the museum claims most people remember from visiting the museum is the two-headed calf. It's clearly an oddity and rarity and neat to see.

Part way through the exhibit, you exit the doors and take a trip to Ohio Village. It's a recreated Civil War village featuring a church, school, freight office, natural museum, telegraph office and hotel, barn and stables holding buggies, printer, general store and a couple of residences-one of which includes a doctor's office. Enactors dressing the part interact with visitors and answer any questions that arise. Youngsters can play some of the games from the era near the freight office. The natural museum has some interesting crocodile skins, rhesus monkeys and a Bengal tiger among its collection. Also, be sure to check out the heirloom garden on your way to the hotel.

Off in it's own area near an old Chevrolet sedan and Airstream trailer is the main reason I decided to stop by: The 1950s exhibit featuring a Lustron home. I've seen a few of these from the outside, but have never been in one. The exhibit takes you inside a Lustron home (minus the roof area) and also features other popular items from the 1950s such as a record player and a car with an airstream trailer out front. The furniture and decor inside the home is from the era, too.

Upstairs, an exhibit shows more than 200 photographs of Appalachia by Albert Erring.

I would suggest visitors plan on spending 2-3 hours at the museum. There's quite a bit to see and it takes some time to read about exhibit items. Also you might want to take a break between exhibits. There's a nice store near the entrance that sells many historical items and things tied to the exhibits such as a Curious George Jack-in-the Box in the 1950s area to Ohio wines.

Admission is $10 for adults, $9 for seniors, $5 for children ages 6-12, Children 5 and younger free, school groups are $4 per student. AAA and senior discounts given as well as military discounts for acive military and veterans with I.D.

Parking is free.

The museum is located at 800 E. 17th Ave. in Columbus 43211.

The museum is open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. For more information, call 1.800.686.6124 or visit http://www.ohiohistory.org/museums-and-historic-sites/museum--historic-sites-by-name/ohio-history-center/ohio-history-center.