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“great preservation of immigrant history”

Heritage Discovery Center
Ranked #4 of 16 things to do in Johnstown
Certificate of Excellence
Attraction details
Bridgewater, New Jersey
Level Contributor
166 reviews
66 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 83 helpful votes
“great preservation of immigrant history”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 31, 2012

Most all of us are recent descendents of immigrants, making this fascinating look at the life and challenges of immigrants coming to this steel town a vital experience. And so reasonable! Actually, they need to charge more because many, many of the exhibits are showing serious wear and tear.

Visited July 2012
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Thank JeffinNJ
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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69 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
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Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Japanese first
  • Any
English first
Pasadena, Maryland
Level Contributor
93 reviews
23 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 47 helpful votes
“Thoughts on the Children's Museum”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 14, 2012

The Heritage Discovery Center includes several floors of exhibits. We visited the Children's floor only, so these comments are specific to that area only.
There are many hands-on, self-guided discovery sections, with each room becoming increasingly more interesting. Kids really get a picture of the mines and how integral they are to the area. Likewise, the floods. There is historical perspective with old maps, costumes and housewares.
We visited with a group of moms with children ranging in age from 7 to only months old. I'd say the ideal age for this section would be 2-6. The 7 year old (rising 2nd grader) was too old for many of the displays and was quickly ready to move on.
It's a great way to spend a morning or afternoon. Your entry to this museum provides entry to other area museums for several days, so there is a lot of value in this ticket if you are in town for a few days.
A final note: some Discovery Centers we've visited have been a little grimy. I'm happy to say Johnstown's is nice and clean!

Visited July 2012
Helpful?
2 Thank OmGrlJenn
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Pittsburgh, Pa
Level Contributor
266 reviews
134 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 82 helpful votes
“Interesting attraction!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 2, 2012

Our children found the heritage section of the museum interesting. I wasn’t sure a 7 and 9 yr old would but they did. The keycards that told an immigrants story as well as the way everything was displayed held their attention. They really enjoyed the floor housing the Johnstown Children’s museum. Passes for admission here also include admission to the flood museum and one other museum in town. Passes are good for 5 days.

Visited June 2012
Helpful?
1 Thank deebug2470
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Level Contributor
30 reviews
13 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 50 helpful votes
“Nice themed children's museaum but several exhibits inoperable”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 29, 2012

Visited the Children's Museum portion of the the Heritage Discovery Center, located in the Cambria City area of Johnstown. The museum is houses in an old factory building, which in and of itself is interesting. My seven year old grandchild enjoyed it greatly. Exhibits are themed specifically to the Johnstown area and include an interactive water exhibit in which the child "builds a dam", places houses and buildings downstream from the dam, the dam fills with water and eventually "bursts" - with the water then washing away all the houses and buildings. It is a very effective exhibit in explaining the Johnstown Flood to a small child - and not at all "gruesome" or anything like that.

Another favorite exhibit of my grandson was the "Coal Mine" where he got to put on a miner's hard hat, grab a small shovel and "dig coal". The mine led to a stairway which led to a large enclosed slide that returned him to the main floor of the exhibit, where he was deposited into a "coal car". He made several trips through the mine and down the enclosed slide. Nicely enough for grandma, there is a bench for seating located nearby.

Also located in this room was an interesting looking exhibit about pouring molten steel into molds. It highlighted some of the early products of the Johnstown mills. Unfortunately, this exhibit was inoperable. Which I found to be quite surprising in a facility of this kind. I mean, why have a museum if your exhibits don't work?

Attendants here were young, friendly and helpful. Not many other people were in the museum when we visited in the late afternoon on a weekday in June 2012. Easy to see the place is set up to handle large groups of children at a time.

Downtown Johnstown, though small, is a maze to navigate even with GPS. Between one way streets and construction clocings, we ended up lost twice before we found the museum. But it was worth looking for and I will go back again, taking the older grandchildren next time.

Pricing: I forget - $10 or $12 I think. Worth it. We ran out of time but the ticket price also included other areas of this museum and the Johnstown Flood Museum, located about a mile away in the city proper. The Cambria City area is an interesting area to drive through. Lots of heritage here - many, many of the original immigrants to Johnstown lived in this area - including some of my own ancestors. Most interesting to me was the number of huge, distinctive churches still standing in this rather small area. Every nationality had its own church, so there was the Irish Catholic church, the German Catholic church, the Polish Catholic church, plus several others. And some of these look far more like cathedrals than neighborhood churches. And all paid for by the nearly slave wages of mill workers of the 1800's. It is just amazing to see these edifices.

Parking and walking: Lots of free parking onsite, right in front of the museum. Handicap ramp at entrance and elevators within the museum. Benches for seating available throughout the exhibits. (Thank you, thank you museum designers.)

Visited June 2012
Helpful?
1 Thank BellaofPgh
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cumming, Georgia
Level Contributor
123 reviews
34 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 48 helpful votes
“A worthwhile place to visit in J-town”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 2, 2012

A focus on American history from the perspective of our immigrant forefathers.

Helpful?
Thank rytr
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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