Location: Canton, Ohio
Webpage: Presidential Library
General Description: The William McKinley Presidential Library and Museum offers visitors the opportunity to step back in time to the history of Stark County with some very impressive exhibits.
1) Unlike other Presidential Libraries we have visited, the William McKinley Presidential Library has very little about William McKinley. Rather it is an historical museum about Stark County. However, they have done a very good job with the museum and it was well worth the visit.
2) The exhibits related to William McKinley are limited to two small areas. The first is a side room as you go up the stairs where there is seating for about a dozen people to watch excerpts from a television program about McKinley. The second is the McKinley Gallery where they have on display a number of artifacts owned by McKinley. They also have a cute animatronics program with two life size “puppets” of William and Ida McKinley. There are 5 different short programs you can have them perform ranging from his recollections of the Civil War, his political campaign for President, and cautions about attending the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo where he was assassinated.
3) The Street of Shops wing is a small reconstruction of a turn of the century town with its many shops. There are numerous artifacts in each shop along with some short audio programs that describe the lifestyle of the time. This area is VERY well done and is worth the price of admission. One of the highlights was a room devoted to model trains. They had an extensive model train layout depicting important crossings and industries in the area along with hundreds of model trains on display.
4) The Stark County Story wing also had some interesting exhibits highlighting the important time periods from the pioneer days, through the Ohio and Erie Canal, up to today. I especially found it interesting the many industries that boomed in this part of Ohio. Of course, agriculture has been a major industry throughout its history, but there was also a period of coal mining, iron and steel manufacturing, and other specialized industries such as quality watch making and ball bearings.
5) The Hoover Price Planetarium is a small planetarium located in the museum. Since admission to the 2:00 show is part of the price of admission to the museum, the show is well attended. I have been in larger planetariums in the past, but still it is nice to have an informed view of the night sky. The presentation about the planets was cute but contained little information I did not already know as it was primarily for the younger audience.
6) Discover World is also for children as it contains a number of interesting exhibits about the natural world including paleontology and live exhibits of snakes, birds, and bugs from around the world. There is also a section highlighting science with a number of interactive exhibits for the kids.