Say “museum” and some people - especially children - think “boring.”
Not those in this list, with contents ranging from tiny (toys) to huge (a battleship). They’re worth a visit in their own right, or a nice alternative to know about when it rains on your vacation parade.
Old Strathcona Model and Toy Museum
The Model and Toy Museum is located in the Old Strathcona Historic Area in Edmonton. It has over 400 scale models of famous buildings, planes, ships and historical and contemporary subjects representing many countries and cultures - all made from paper.
One look at the intricate detail of the pieces tells of a labor of love. I was especially impressed by the miniature scene of the mounted musical riders of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Admission is by donation. (403) 433-4512.
Remington-Alberta Carriage Centre
The Remington-Alberta Carriage Centre houses one of the largest collections of horsedrawn vehicles in North America. There are over 200 carriages, wagons and sleighs. The museum has interactive displays and audio-visual productions.
Admission is about $4 for adults, in U.S. dollars. Carriage tours of Lee Creek Valley are offered daily from mid-May through mid-September and depart from the museum at twenty-minute intervals. (403) 653-5139.
Montana Territorial Prison
Deer Lodge, Mont.
The prison complex houses several museums. The Old Montana Prison (406-846-1320) is a castle-like stone fortress, which was the first territorial prison in the western United States. The Montana Law Enforcement Museum (406-846-3777) provides everything you’d ever want to know about Montana’s law enforcement history. The Towe Ford Museum (406-846-3111) features over 100 antique cars on display. The Powell County Museum (406-846-3294) reflects the pioneering history of the county. This one stop will net you four distinct museum themes; each has a nominal admission fee, except the county museum.
The battleship Missouri is a living part of today’s Navy. Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, as a representative of the United States, signed the Japanese Instrument of Surrender on the deck of the battleship on September 2, 1945. The battleship will be open to the public this year from May 20 through Sept. 4. No admission is charged. (360) 698-7411.
Naval Undersea Museum
The Naval Undersea Museum uses a nautical theme to replicate the aura of the undersea. Audio and visual effects are used to highlight undersea technologies. Admission is free. (360) 396- 4148.
Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park
Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park is comprised of two areas, a heritage center and a natural area. The heritage area sits on a bluff overlooking the Columbia River, near Interstate 90. Large chunks of petrified trees adorn the entrance to the center. The Interpretive Center and Museum is open daily from mid-May through mid-September each year. The museum houses over 50 species of petrified trees; each section is cut and beautifully polished. Admission is free. (509) 856-2700.
The natural area is located two miles west of the interpretive center. A network of trails leads visitors to several exposed petrified trees. The trails are open daily from 8 a.m. to dusk throughout the year. No admission is charged for this day-use area.
MEMO: For more information: “The Cockroach Hall of Fame and 101 Other Off-the-Wall Museums” by Sandra Gurvis (Citadel Press) explores the offbeat, zany and fun museums in the United States and parts of Canada.