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“Cleveland's Sqauandered History?”

Western Reserve Historical Society
Ranked #31 of 191 things to do in Cleveland
Certificate of Excellence
Attraction details
Reviewed October 18, 2013

Whomever looted the National Museum of Iraq during the Iraq war, has nothing on the so-called "stewards" appointed to "safeguard what was once a fabulous collection of antiques and historic artifacts chronicling the history of the Western Reserve at the WRHS..For those of you who don't know, the Western Reserve was a region of Ohio, granted by King Charles ll, which was originally reserved by the colony of Connecticut for future settlement.

My wife and I always loved the WRHS, and share fond childhood memories of field trips to this once splendid institution. There was the beautiful and enormous Oriental rug where Queen Elizabeth reportedly once stood; what seemed like a life-sized dollhouse to an elementary school student, complete with fine furnishings and lighting; and then there was the Napoleon Room filled with artifacts that were of course everything Napoleon.

When we began dating we would wander through the attached two old mansions and fantasize about what life was like for Cleveland's wealthy during the Gilded Era. We remember what we recall was an octagonal shaped room (now closed to the public) where every Sunday society ladies would serve lemonade, iced tea and the absolute best gingerbread ever.

When we visited WRHS a few weeks ago, it seemed that of the relatively few rooms still open in only one of the old mansions, most of the antiquities were simply gone with mostly bare walls; the property looking more like a venue for parties and weddings than a museum.

Turns out, decades of bad decisions allegedly resulted in the museum selling-off much of its collection to fund its very survival; and apparently without much accountability to the families who donated to the Society over the years, or to the public who so enjoyed visiting this once fabulous regional asset.

For an in-depth look at what supposedly happened to WRHS, there are more than a few articles available online.

On a positive note, the WRHS has an excellent library filled with manuscripts and genealogy research tools and they still offer some terrific programs and fun events. Finally, the two mansions haven't been leveled to be replaced by a fast foods restaurant ( the fate of some Cleveland landmarks) which is unlikely to occur of course, and the museum still has a few pretty cool vintage cars and airplanes that it didn't sell ... at least yet.

5  Thank Mark O
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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94 - 98 of 113 reviews

Reviewed September 28, 2013

I loved the shiny old cars and the fact that Cleveland was home to multiple car manufactures! There was also a fashion showcase of old Designer gowns; many worn by Mrs. Firestone! This is located in the right hand side of the museum that houses rotating ladies fashions.

Thank Sandra A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 22, 2013

We came to see the Auto-Aviation exhibit and ended up seeing a lot more. That exhibit was great, with lots of cars, planes, videos, and object displays. A lower floor with even more will be opening in the fall.

We also saw the Dior and More room which was full of vintage clothing, several rooms of the mansion the society is housed in were decorated with period furniture and art, a cartography room with tons of maps of old Cleveland and Ohio, a room of civil war photography and artifacts, and a dollhouse showcase. There was so much more than we expected to see, and it was all very entertaining.

The building was also clean, quiet, and well-staffed.

1  Thank Sam B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 17, 2013

This is a fine museum to spend a little bit of time in, but $10 is WAY too much for what you get. The classic cars were nice and they have screens set up running little movies about various aspects of the auto industry. The Dior costume collection was nice as well, but again not a lot there. The "model train" was absurd. I have a better setup under my Christmas tree every year. Half of the exhibits seemed to be closed. The mansion tours were over by the time we got there so we didn't get to see that. Overall, I would not recommend this. However, they seem to have a good library for research.

2  Thank julibeth
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed May 20, 2013

Not only is this an interesting and entertaining museum, it is housed in a lovely historic mansion. So glad that the structure is preserved, as well as the artifacts.

Thank JrnyJunkie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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