Ohio is home to some of the most popular museums in the country that just happen to make great places to host meetings or special events. These include two presidential museums, the largest military aircraft museum in the world, a museum that details the legacy of the U.S. steel industry and a newer museum dedicated to military veterans and their stories.
Check out some of these distinctive museums for your next Ohio meeting.
National Veterans Memorial and Museum
The National Veterans Memorial and Museum, which opened to the public in October 2018, tells the stories of U.S. military veterans from all eras and branches, highlighting their personal journeys through images and artifacts. Permanent exhibits include Veterans Among Us, which touches on key themes and moments from a veteran’s journey, and Legacy of Service, which shows how veterans use the skills and values they learned in the military to give back to their communities.
The Remembrance Gallery on the mezzanine offers visitors a space for reflection and recollection of those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
The building was designed in arched concrete with a glass curtain wall that seems to rise organically from the surrounding terrain. A spiral processional leads up to a rooftop sanctuary, which is one of the museum’s top event venues for groups. The sanctuary can host 400 for a sit-down banquet and up to 700 for a reception. Outside the museum is a 2.5-acre Memorial Grove for contemplation and reflection.
The Great Hall, which overlooks the Columbus skyline, can host up to 500 for a reception. Two smaller rooms, Gallery 33, and the Franklin County Room, can hold 50 to 75 people comfortably for meetings that need access to drop-down screens and other electronics. Outside caterers can be brought in, and groups wanting to tour the museum as part of their events have numerous options to choose from.
Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library and Museums
In Freemont, the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library and Museums was the first national presidential library and museum to open to the public. Hayes, who was the country’s 19th president, and his wife, Lucy, lived in the 31-room Victorian mansion after his presidency. The first floor of the mansion is furnished as it was when the Hayes family lived there.
The museum tells the story of the president and Lucy Hayes through artifacts, documents and images and also features rotating exhibits. Visitors can see Lucy’s wedding dress and a ring with a lock of George Washington’s hair in it or learn about Hayes’ contested election, the issues he faced during his presidency and what life was like in the White House. Hayes collected letters from every president of the U.S. during his lifetime, and the museum has kept up the tradition, collecting letters up to Donald Trump. The property is designated as an arboretum because it has 90 different species among its 1,700 trees.
Groups can host events in the auditorium, which can seat up to 100 people. If seating is in rounds, the space can host up to 75. The grounds are also available for rental and can accommodate up to 400 people. The facility has a smaller tent with tables and chairs for up to 100 people. If the event is larger, groups will have to rent additional tents, tables and chairs. Groups can also book tours of the mansion and museum.
McKinley Presidential Library and Museum
Unlike other presidential museums, Canton’s McKinley Presidential Library and Museum goes beyond learning about the life and presidency of William McKinley, who served as the country’s 25th president. The McKinley Gallery details his life and career, from birth to his assassination in 1901 and features the largest collection of McKinley artifacts in the world. The Keller Gallery hosts temporary exhibits, and the Experience Stark County exhibit chronicles 200 years of the county’s history through artifacts, photos and interpretive audio programs.
The Discover World Science Center offers interactive science exhibits geared toward school children on history, fossils, animals and weather. The grounds are home to McKinley National Memorial, where McKinley and his wife, Ida, are buried. The property also has the Ramsayer Research Library and Hoover-Price Planetarium.
Groups can rent out the entire museum, which can accommodate 500 guests. The Everhard Auditorium, which can host groups up to 100, was recently renovated and includes new walls, flooring and A/V equipment. The space includes a full kitchen with double ovens and catering refrigerator, access to Wi-Fi, screen and a projector. Admission to the museum can be added as an additional cost.
The History Lobby and School House can accommodate smaller meetings or events, and guests can host events in the Street of Shops, a life-sized replica of a historic town that includes the Dannemiller Store, Gibbs Manufacturing Company, Eagle Hotel and fire station.
The grounds are available for events of all sizes and groups can add on planetarium shows or a photo booth at their events.
Youngstown Historical Center of Industry and Labor
The Youngstown Historical Center of Industry and Labor was designed by architect Michael Graves in the postmodern style. Built of brick, glass block and tinted glass, each side of the museum resembles the design of a steel mill from a different period. Visitors to the museum can take in a 15-minute video that was shot in Youngstown in 1944, titled “Steel Town,” that shows the inside and outside of steel mills, what people were doing for work and what they did in their leisure time.
Groups can take self-guided tours or schedule guided tours of the museum, which has two galleries. The upper-level gallery space covers steel and iron making from Colonial times up through Black Monday in 1977, when the Youngstown steel mills began closing down. The first-floor gallery features a re-creation of a company house, a company locker room and an overlook into a mill pulpit. The museum also keeps an archives library with books and photographs that can be used for research.
Groups that want to host meetings or events at the center can rent out the Meshel Classroom, a large room that can be divided into two spaces or used as one large space. It can accommodate up to 100 seated or 80 people for a meal. Groups can bring in their own caterer and have access to a refrigerator, sink and microwave. They also can rent out the entire museum. Groups meeting at the museum get a free guided tour and access to the galleries.
National Museum of the U.S. Air Force
Dayton’s National Museum of the U.S. Air Force is the oldest and largest military aircraft museum in the world. The museum, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, displays more than 350 aerospace vehicles and missiles and thousands of artifacts. It covers 20 indoor acres with additional outdoor Air Park and Memorial Park.
The museum’s exhibit galleries include an Early Years gallery, which touches on the formative days of U.S. military air power, from the Wright brothers through World War I; a World War II Gallery; Cold War Gallery; and Missile Gallery. The Space Gallery has a Space Shuttle Exhibit, which features NASA’s first Crew Compartment Trainer, a representation of a space shuttle crew station used primarily for on-orbit crew training and engineering evaluations. Visitors can walk through a full-sized replica of a NASA space shuttle payload bay and look inside the CCT-1 cockpit and mid-deck areas.
Groups can utilize 10 areas throughout the museum for events. What makes the venue special is they can host dinners near presidential aircraft or under historic planes, as well as facilitate training sessions or team-building activities. The Air Force Museum Theatre has a stage for live music or performers and can host up to 400 guests. The Presidential Gallery can accommodate dinner-style seating for 300 with round tables or concert/ceremony seating for 800 with a stage. The museum also has smaller rooms that work well for corporate meetings. Events can include tours of the museum’s gallery spaces.