Museums in Cleveland

Cleveland is an incredible city with a storied past so it’s no wonder that Cleveland and the surrounding area is rife with museums for just about everything you could ever want to explore and some things you may have not known you wanted to explore until you visited.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum

Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is one of the most popular attractions in the region attracting music fans from around the world. Cleveland won the bid to provide a home to the museum through its thin ties to the beginnings of rock and roll and the generous financial package they offered. The museum opened in 1993 and documents the entire history of rock and roll. Visitors can wander through seven levels featuring permanent and temporary exhibits with some artifacts only on very short term loan. The third level of the museum is the actual Hall of Fame with all of the inductee’s signatures. Although a lot of controversy surrounds the museum and the induction process the museum is still a fascinating detour, especially for music fans.

Cleveland Museum of Natural History

Cleveland’s Museum of Natural History had its starts back in 1830 when a collection of animal specimens were housed in a small wood building on Public Square referred to as “The Ark”. In 1920 the actual Cleveland Museum of Natural History was founded and has grown quite a reputation as one of the finest museums of its kind in the country. One of the most famous exhibits is the famed Lucy, a 3 million year old human ancestor, but vying with Lucy for popularity is a 150 million year old dinosaur, one of the most complete mounted sauropods on display in the world. These two artifacts alone are reason enough to visit the museum but the museum has so much more to offer including both permanent and traveling exhibits.

Children’s Museum of Cleveland

The Children’s Museum of Cleveland is the best place to visit with your family if you have children between eight years old or younger. The museum is the only one in the area completely dedicated to this age group and their families. Permanent exhibits teach about the water cycle and weather, the city of Cleveland, everyday magic and science, health and body awareness, Mother Goose math lessons and Big Red Barn based on the Margaret Wise Brown story. But one of the most popular exhibits is Blast Off! Where children and their families can pretend to explore space and learn all about the universe around them.

Steamship William G. Mather Maritime Museum

The Steamship William G. Mather Maritime Museum is actually a retired Great Lakes bulk freighter that has been restored and turned into a museum. First launched in 1925 the ship originally worked for the Cleveland Cliffs Iron Company and was responsible for transporting materials through the upper Great Lakes to Duluth Minnesota. The ship was one of the first of its kind equipped with radar and became the very first American vessel to have an automated boiler system. The William G. Mather served Cleveland Cliffs well until 1985 when the company sold to the Great Lakes Historical Society. It was carefully restored and served the public throughout several more owners. Look for special events as you may time your visit to coincide with a shipboard sleepover.

Cleveland Police Museum

Cleveland Police Detective Robert Bolton was inspired by a visit to Scotland Yard’s Black Museum in London and decided that Cleveland should have its own police museum. The Cleveland Police Historical Society was founded in 1983 and the museum opened that same year in a 1200 square foot space on the first floor of the Police Headquarters. The exhibits documented the history of the local police department from 1866 to modern day. The museum proved to be very popular and remains one of the few law enforcement museums open to the public in the United States.

International Women’s Air & Space Museum

The International Women’s Air & Space Museum gives you a deeper look at how women have influenced the world of aviation and space exploration across the world. The museum first opened its doors in 1986 in Centerville, Ohio and quickly expanded outside of its original home and moved to Burke Lakefront Airport in 1998. The exhibits span the lobby and west concourse of the airport and are open to the public seven days a week and admission is completely free.

Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum

The Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum gives visitors a deeper look at the history of land and air transportation. The museum houses a collection of automobiles, aircraft, bicycles, motorcycles, spacecraft and other accessories and artifacts that illustrate the progression of transportation through Cleveland and the world. Some of the highlights of the museum include a dozen historically significant airplanes including some great air racers from the 1920s and 1930s, a beautiful 1897 Panhard Lavassor Coupe, a stunning white 1919 Locomobile tp.48 Series 5 Sportif, a 1913 Harley-Davidson 7-A and many others.

Dunham Tavern Museum

The Dunham Tavern Museum began its existence as a stagecoach stop and the home of Rufus and Jane Pratt Dunham. This 1824 home seemed a windfall when the couple realized they had conveniently placed it on a well-traveled stagecoach route. In addition to farming the couple became tavern keepers as well. The structure is today the oldest building still standing on its original site in Cleveland and opened in 1941 to the public as a nonprofit museum. Loaded with antiques and featuring beautiful rambling gardens, the museum is a fabulous trip back in time.

Cleveland Museum of Art

The Cleveland Museum of Art houses more than 43,000 works of art in its permanent collection which is open to the public free of charge unless there is a special event or exhibit. The museum has recently undergone an extensive renovation that had closed 19 of the permanent galleries but they’re back up and running with even more construction work scheduled for the future to expand the museum and display more works of art. Not only does the museum feature incredible paintings, sculptures and photographic works but they also include lectures, films, and musical programs throughout the year.
Creative Commons License photo credit: tehusagent