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The Northerner

Cincinnati’s Museum Center rich in history

Roxanna Blevins

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If you want to go back in time, visit the Cincinnati History Museum.

With its 94-foot steamboat and a World War II homefront exhibit, the Cincinnati History Museum is just one of offerings of the Cincinnati Museum Center, which also houses the Museum of Natural History and Science, the Duke Energy Children’s Museum and an OMNIMAX Theater.

According to Museum Center employee Sarah Schorr, prices for museum exhibits vary depending on age and membership status at the Museum Center.

But, on Fridays and Saturdays after 5 p.m., students pay member pricing for the OMNIMAX, Schorr said.

For visitors to the Museum Center who prefer a more interactive approach, the Cincinnati History Museum offers a look into Cincinnati’s past, with costumed interpreters from different eras in the city’s history. The Cincinnati Museum Center has its own part in the history of the city, too.

According to the Cincinnati Museum Center’s website, the building originally opened as Union Terminal in 1933. It centralized the freight and passenger train operations of seven railroad companies, which had operated from five terminals.

During World War II, Union Terminal experienced a surge of success. However, after the war, its popularity declined as highways were built and other modes of transportation took over.

Union Terminal closed in 1972. The building was converted to a shopping mall in the early 1980s, but the project quickly failed.

In the mid-1980s, the Cincinnati Museum of Natural History and the Cincinnati Historical Society proposed a joint museum project. The project was approved, and the Cincinnati Museum Center was opened in 1990. Since then, it has had over a million visitors each year, according to the Museum Center’s website.

On weekdays, the most common visitors to the museum are parents with young children. The Children’s Museum is popular with this crowd, but it is not uncommon for them to visit the other museums, too.

“We normally start in the Children’s Museum, then we go to the Museum of Science and Natural History. If we have time, we go to the Cincinnati History Museum,” said Cincinnati resident Helen Frost.

Frost said she goes to the Museum Center with her daughter and her schoolmates about once a month.

Some patrons aren’t from Cincinnati, so they are not able to make it to the Museum Center as often.

“We’re going to the movie,” said Lexington resident Jean Buchanan, referring to the OMNIMAX film, “Hubble.”

Because they live in Lexington, Buchanan and her husband, Gary, only come to the Museum Center about once every other year—according to Jean, the trip is worth it.

In addition to “Hubble,” the OMNIMAX Theater is currently presenting “Mysteries of Egypt.”

The Cincinnati Museum Center is also hosting the temporary exhibition “Cleopatra: The Search for the Last Queen of Egypt.” The exhibit boasts almost 150 artifacts from ancient Egypt coming to the U.S. for the first time and will be at the Museum Center through Sept. 5.

The “Cleopatra” exhibit is not the only exhibit at the Museum Center that dates back to before Cincinnati was a city. The Museum of Natural History and Science invites visitors to check out a recreated glacier meant to simulate one that would have been in the area 19,000 years ago. A simulated limestone cave is another display in the Museum of Natural History and Science, offering a glimpse of real caves in the region.

The Cincinnati Museum Center also offers a variety of free events, such as the Passport to the World event, which features “Culture Fests” for different societies. The next Passport to the World event will be the Celtic Culture Fest, which will take place March 12 and 13.

The Cincinnati Historical Society Library, exhibition galleries and private dining rooms and auditoriums are also available at the Cincinnati Museum Center.

Story by Roxanna Blevins

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Cincinnati’s Museum Center rich in history