Visiting the Ohio History Center in Columbus

Conway mastadon skeleton at the Ohio History Center in Columbus

If you grew up in Central Ohio, chances are good that you visited the Ohio History Center on an elementary school field trip. I know that I did. And to be quite honest, I haven’t visited it much since.

Good news! It’s still there and there have been several additions since your grade school days!

Visiting the Ohio History Center

My brother has been, for several years now, an Ohio transplant to the west coast of Florida. Recently he was in town for several days and we opted to spend some time visiting the Ohio History Center.

The Ohio History Center is located just north of downtown Columbus on (or near) the Ohio State Fairgrounds. It is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm.

Interior view of the Ohio History Center in Columbus. The picture shows a double staircase and red carpet.
This is the view I remember from third grade! My mom was a chaperone on that trip.

Ticket prices are $16 per adult with discounts available for college students, seniors over age 60, educators, AAA and children. If you plan on visiting frequently you may want to look into purchasing a membership which will provide free admission. Additional discounts are available through the Columbus Metropolitan Library’s Culture Pass program.

Visiting the Museum

You’ll first be greeted to the museum by the large skeleton of the Conway mastodon. This skeleton is one of the most complete skeletons in the state and was discovered in 1887 near the borders of Clark and Champaign counties.

Pushing on, I noticed that the exhibit Ohio – Champion of Sports was still being featured at the museum. This exhibit includes everything from equipment and uniforms to stories of our Ohio athletes, coaches, owners and fans and celebrates the history of sports in our state.

We walked through a number of galleries and I must say, the museum is organized in a fashion so that it leads you through all of the exhibits without much need to backtrack. One of my favorite exhibits included Indigenous Wonders of Our World, which featured information and artifacts from the early mound builders. My husband and I enjoyed looking at the maps of Ohio’s mounds and pointing out those we had already visited, such as those in Newark and Chillicothe.

The exterior of a Lustron home, an all metal home built after WWII. The full house is on display at the Ohio History Center in Columbus.

I also enjoyed the nostalgia of 1950s – Building the American Dream. In addition to advertisements and products from the 1950s, this space features a full size Lustron home, equipped as it might have been during that decade.

The living room of a Lustron home shows 1950s period sofa and chairs along with a black and white television from the same period. The floor is a brown linoleum.
Since the walls are metal, you can hang pictures and artwork with magnets rather than nails!

Lustron homes were manufactured after World War II of porcelain steel in Columbus. Around 1000 square feet each, the homes were built in the Lustron factory and assembled on site. A new Lustron home, like the one on exhibit, would cost about $4500.

The Ohio Village

During your museum tour, you’ll be prompted by signs to exit the building and visit nearby Ohio Village. You can walk through the village and interact with local residents (costumed actors) at their places of employ.

Old fashioned pharmacy shelving and bottles from the late 1890s.
The pharmacy in Ohio Village, complete with original bottles and shelves from an Ohio pharmacy.

The desk clerk at the American House Hotel & Tavern, informed us that we were visiting 1898 and offered us a room for $1 per night. She boasted of their indoor plumbing and electricity before informing us that, should we be looking for cheaper accommodations, we might try the local boarding house.

We were invited by two local ladies to join the H&P Women’s Study Club as they told us about their lively book talks and their dreams of bringing a library to their village of about 400 people. And in the pharmacy, we viewed the antique bottles that were all original and donated by an actual Ohio pharmacy.

A store setting from the 1890s at Ohio Village at the Ohio History Center in Columbus. Products for sale line the shelves and tables.
One of many stores at the Ohio Village. This one was not open, but viewable from the sidewalk.

We had a lively conversation with the undertaker at Barrymore Funeral Parlor as he explained the practices of the day and showed us the difference between a coffin (European and six sided, with increased width at the shoulders) and a casket (American and four sided).

The school building at Ohio Village. Wooden desks are lined up in rows. At the front of the classroom is a larger desk for the teacher and on the sides of the classroom are chalkboards.
The school was one of my favorite buildings at the Ohio Village. I would like to return sometime when a teacher is available.

Other spots, such as the Taylor House and the Ohio Village School were unmanned. We were still able to poke our heads in for a look at what life might have been like in an early Ohio village.

Visiting the Ohio History Center

If you plan on visiting, check the Ohio History Center website in advance of your visit. It is not necessary to purchase tickets in advance, but if you’d like to skip the line you can do so from there as well.

Interior of the Ohio History Center in Columbus. Rocks from all over Ohio are shown in protective cases.

If you plan on getting the full experience and spending some time in Ohio Village, you’ll want to check the weather in advance. It was quite hot (90 degrees) for our visit and I may have preferred a nice crisp fall day. Additionally, if you are travelling during the school year, you may want to check in advance to see if there are field trips planned for the day of your visit.

North Market

Hungry after our visit, we needed to find a fun place to eat. We settled on the North Market, which was just a few minutes away. My nephew got a chicken sandwich at Hot Chicken Takeover. Hot Chicken Takeover features Nashville hot chicken and is a local chain with strong ties to the North Market. He found it delicious, but hot.

David, my brother and I settled on COLO Market and Oyster Bar, a purveyor selling both raw and prepared seafood. I ordered the fish and chips as did my brother. (I may have mentioned a few times – I love fish and chips). David ordered the lobster mac and cheese.

Lobster mac and cheese from COLO at North Market. Pasta noodles and generous bites of lobster.
Doesn’t this look fantastic! Look at those huge bits of lobster!

It doesn’t usually happen, but David most certainly out-ordered me this time. His mac and cheese portion was generous and they weren’t stingy with the lobster. He shared a bite and I was immediately sold. It was delicious and really a good value considering the portion size.

My order of fish and chips was a little disappointing, especially after tasting his food. There were just two small pieces of fish and they were a bit overcooked. (Keep in mind I’m a bit picky on fish and chips as I order it everywhere!) It was served with plenty of fries, tartar sauce and a pickle. I’d like to say I’d give the fish and chips another go, but to be honest I wouldn’t. I’d still eat at COLO again, but I’d definitely order the lobster mac and cheese.


Thanks for FindingOhio with us today. We love exploring Ohio’s history. If you love it as much as we do, consider visiting Ohio Histories. There you’ll find articles on our visits to The National Museum of the Great Lakes, Hope Furnace, the Newark Earthworks and the Ohio Statehouse.

We appreciate you stopping by and hope you’ll visit often as we are adding Ohio adventures at least once each week. And, as always, we appreciate you sharing our content to your social media. We want to let everyone know that Ohio is a special place to live and visit.