Oklahoma's Kid-Friendly History Museums - MetroFamily Magazine
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Oklahoma's Kid-Friendly History Museums

by Jennifer Geary

Reading Time: 3 minutes 

Last week I shared a bit about art museums in Oklahoma; this week I want to focus on history museums around the state. We have so many places that share our state's history over time as well as places that focus on a specific person or time period.  

Before I talk about some of these museums, though, I want to remind you to check out the small historical society museums that can be found all over the state. Almost every town has some sort of collections you can view and while the venues may not be as fancy as some of the bigger museums, they are usually staffed with passionate volunteers who can share personal stories about the people and items featured there.  So if you're visiting an area that's new to you, be sure to see if they have a museum you can visit to learn more about it.

Oklahoma History Center (OKC) If it has anything to do with Oklahoma history, you're going to find it at the Oklahoma History Center.  This is a large museum, so if you have young ones with you, you may want to look at the website ahead of time to make sure you see all the exhibits you want to see the most. There are plenty of hands-on opportunities throughout the museum, though, that will help keep those little ones interested and learning!

Oklahoma City National Memorial (OKC) With this year marking the 20th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, this might be a good time to take your children to this amazing museum and memorial. I went for the first time last year and was floored by all of the memorabilia and artifacts from that day and how well the stories of the people involved were told. If your children are younger or sensitive, you may want to go without them first to make sure that it would be appropriate; for me, it was kind of hard to get through and I was glad I had the chance to go through it and process it on my own without discussing it with my kids at the same time. You may also want to check out the field guide.

Oklahoma Territorial Museum and The Carnegie Library (Guthrie) This nearby museum chronicles the history of the land that became the state of Oklahoma up through early statehood. See what early settlers would have brought with them and what their soddies (sod houses) would look like; you can even try on some pioneer clothing!

Route 66 Museums (Statewide) Oklahoma has more driveable miles of Route 66 than any other state, and we have some very unique museums dedicated to preserving its history. Some of our favorites are the Route 66 Interpretive Center (Chandler), the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum (Clinton) and the National Route 66 Museum (Elk City). There are many interesting places to stop along the way, but these three museums all do a great job of covering the history of the Mother Road.

Will Rogers Memorial Museum (Claremore) Learn about Oklahoma's most famous son at the Will Rogers Memorial Museum in Claremore. There are artifacts and memorabilia from his entire life, and the free scavenger hunt they have available online will help your children enjoy looking through all of the displays. Visitors also can visit his birthplace in nearby Oologah.

Chickasaw Cultural Center (Sulphur) The Chickasaw Cultural Center tells the story of the Chickasaw tribe with reenactments, exhibits and special events, such as demonstrations and speakers. This wonderful center is only a short drive from the OKC metro and is a beautiful place to spend the day and learn about tribal history.

Cherokee Heritage Center (Tahlequah) Learn about the history of the Cherokee people at the Cherokee Heritage Center. Built on the site of the old Cherokee Female Seminary, the center is home to a museum and Diligwa, a 1710 Cherokee village. Visitors can learn about tribal life while moving through different stations with storytellers and demonstrations. If you haven't been recently, the village was just redone in 2013, so there is more to see!

Woolaroc (Bartlesville) Originally the country getaway of oilman Frank Phillips, Woolaroc is now home to a museum and wildlife preserve, so visitors can learn about the history of the area as well as view some local (and some not-so-local) animals. There is so much to see and do that you definitely need to plan an entire day for your visit.

With all of these great choices, you're going to need longer than Museum Month to visit them all!

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