This museum is located in the old City Hall building, in the non tourist part of Niagara Falls (at 5810 Ferry Street). It is a great place to go if you want to learn the history of Niagara Falls, at a very cheap price, usually just a few bucks. It should be noted though, that unless your child has an extreme interest in history, they will likely be quite bored here. It is not an interactive museum, and is more of a “look, don’t touch” type of place. This is a museum for adults who enjoy learning about the history of a city by reading placards, looking at photos, and viewing displays behind glass.
The building is due for some updates, but the slight disrepair that the building has fallen into, more or less adds to the atmosphere. You are free to take as long as you want to browse through the several displays in this three floor museum. Several artifacts from the War of 1812 are on display, as well as many artifacts relating to the history of Niagara Falls. Parking is free (a real rarity!), and there is also a research room. One of the newest exhibits is the chronicle of the development of hydro power generation in Niagara Falls. One of the unique features of this museum is their “Community Exhibit Programme”, which allows community groups from around the area to come up with their own displays relating to their organization. Current community groups on display are: United Empire Loyalists, Niagara Falls Nature Club, Niagara Scouting and Niagara Black History Association.
This museum is one of three that are owned by the City of Niagara Falls, the other two being the Willoughby Historical Museum and the Battle Ground Hotel Museum. The Willoughby Historical Museum is located along the Niagara Parkway, and is a very small museum set up in an old schoolhouse. The exhibits there cover the history of Willoughby Township. The Battle Ground Hotel Museum is situated on a patch of land where the Battle of Lundy’s Lane was fought during the War of 1812. This museum is a little more interactive, and might be more enjoyable for kids, as you get a guided tour, and you are able to experience tavern life as it was in the 1850s.
These three municipal museums are all perfect places to go if you want to get away from “tourist Niagara Falls” and see “the real Niagara Falls”, or at least get a sense of how it all started. Check out their web site for more details.
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