When you think about Pennsylvania, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? The Commonwealth is known for a number of famous products, people, places, and events. This exhibit features 350 collection items, including the trophy Wilt Chamberlain was given when he played his famous 100-point game in the Hersheypark® Arena, Arnold Palmer’s golf clubs, and dozens of famous products from PA.
The State Museum’s center hall features a colossal bronze statue of Pennsylvania’s founder, William Penn. Sculpted by Janet De Coux, the piece weighs 3200 pounds and stands 18 feet tall. Take a moment to observe the impressive mural depicting Pennsylvania’s history through 1964, and observe Pennsylvania’s official charter.
Take a stroll through a 19th century streetscape with recreations of a general store, summer kitchen, and hardware store.
Pennsylvania has a rich Native American history, and the cultures of the region’s indigenous people are depicted through artifacts and recreations of Native American villages. See how archaeologists methodically dig up the past through careful excavations and research. Each year, there’s an archaeological dig at historic Fort Hunter Mansion & Park to uncover more Harrisburg history in our own back year!
Commemorating the Civil War experience in Pennsylvania, this exhibit includes artifacts, objects, uniforms, and weapons from Pennsylvania’s infantry. It also holds one of the museum’s most impressive pieces – a narrative painting of Pickett’s Charge by Peter Frederick Rothermel, stretching 16 feet tall and 32 feet wide.
See the tools, machines, and vehicles that powered Pennsylvania’s industrial past including planes, trains, and automobiles. The museum’s Pennsylvania Turnpike exhibit showcases the modern marvel that was America’s first superhighway. Pennsylvania was home to the first American toll road from Philadelphia to Lancaster, which was later expanded into the Turnpike we know today. If you’re a fan of the HBO series Chernobyl, check out the special exhibit dedicated to the 1979 Three Mile Island Nuclear Power Plant Accident which resulted in a partial meltdown of one of its reactors.
Dinosaurs! Step back in time and learn about the plants, animals, and insects of the Precambrian to Cenozoic periods. Walk through a Carboniferous forest featuring larger than life creatures and ambient sounds. Marvel at the fully restored 10,000-year-old mastodon skeleton - one of the most complete specimens of its kind in North America.
There’s a whole lot of Pennsylvania history before people ever arrived! Explore this region’s abundant natural resources, rocks, minerals, landforms, and more!
Get up close to a family of black bears or lock eyes with a mountain lion in the museum’s most popular exhibit featuring true-to-life dioramas of both common and rare Pennsylvania mammals. All 13 dioramas are based on actual locations throughout Pennsylvania.
Birds and plants and animals, oh my! The museum’s Ecology Hall examines various Pennsylvania ecosystems and features lots of ambient bird and insect noises.
Take your museum experience into space to examine constellations and explore the solar system inside the museum’s Planetarium. The Planetarium runs several shows a day on a variety of topics and grade levels. It’s an additional $3 per person to watch the show, but it’s well-worth it!
A child’s first museum experience, this fun and educational play space for children 5 and younger allows kids to learn, play, and discover. Kids can run a lemonade stand, play house, do some gardening, build towers (and knock them down), drive a farm truck, build a car on an assembly line, crawl around a magical forest, and more!
You might be wondering when the best time is to visit The State Museum. The answer is…whenever! The museum is so expansive (80,000 square feet of exhibits) is never really feels overcrowded. If you’re interested in the Curiosity Connection or the Planetarium, it’s a good idea to reserve your spots before you start exploring the rest of the museum.