Orton Geological Museum

Free Museum

Orton Geological Museum: Earth’s curiosities will please youngsters at free OSU museum

Earth’s curiosities will please youngsters at free OSU museum


I discovered the Orton Geological Museum while as a student at the Ohio State University. I enjoyed exploring the architecture of older buildings on campus, such as Orton Hall, which dates back to 1893. It’s on the National Register of Historic Places and is well-known on campus for its beloved bell tower that chimes every 15 minutes.

You can enter the Orton Geological Museum from the Orton Hall lobby. The museum and building are named after geologist Edward Orton – Ohio State’s first president.

I liked to gaze at cases of crystals, fossils, meteorites and casts of dinosaur bones among the more than 54,000 specimens. But the showstopper remains the case of minerals that rest behind a black curtain. When you press a button, they glow in ultraviolet light.

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I recently returned to the free museum with my children. It’s part of the School of Earth Sciences and used for research, teaching and public display. What would Rosie and Max think of the concealed case of minerals?

Just being on campus was an adventure for my 6- and 8-year-old, but they were especially captivated by the little museum with signage that appeared to be as much relics as the items they explained. Like during past visits, there were no other people in the museum.

Rosie and Max saw for-sale items in a glass case before they spotted the fluorescent minerals. There were fossil shark teeth for 25 cents and handmade gemstone necklaces for $4. We rang a bell that triggered an academic-looking gentleman to assist us. We settled on two crystal-growing kits for $4.50 apiece.

“Did you see what’s behind the black curtain?” the man asked.

Rosie and Max ran behind the curtain before I had a chance to see their reactions.

“Push the button!” I said from outside.

“Wow, awesome!” I heard two little voices simultaneously say.

Mission accomplished.

The Orton Geological Museum is located at 155 S. Oval Mall. Hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday through Friday and on evenings and weekends by appointment.

For more information call 614-292-6896 or visit ortongeologicalmuseum.osu.edu.

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Wendy and Mike Pramik

Wendy and Mike Pramik are writers from Columbus, Ohio. Their favorite topic is travel, and they enjoy sharing stories about the many weekend adventures they take with their two children, Rosie and Max.