National Watch and Clock Museum

Whimsical clocks

I always thought the name of this museum sounded impressive so I had been meaning to check it out for some time.  Thanks to a free family pass from the library, I finally got around to it the other week.  I took all four children by myself on a Saturday morning expecting to have lots of hands-on activities to keep everyone engaged for a few hours. Let’s just say that even I…a die-hard museum lover and history buff was having a hard time keeping myself occupied for a few hours.  Although the museum is marketed as a family destination, I felt it was more appropriate for adults.  My children are generally well-behaved in public and were doing their best to pay attention and move through the exhibits, but I could tell they were getting antsy.  A stereotypical museum staff person who looked and sounded like maybe he’d spent a little too much time in the dusty corridors of the museum gently reminded us several times that there was “no running allowed” in the exhibit rooms.  After spending careful time in the first room, we began to speed up our perusing, so by the end, we quickly glanced over everything as we moved through.

Goofing around
Elaborate clock with many functions

The museum contained a labyrinth of rooms with various themes but basically all contained loads and loads of watches and clocks of every size, type, age, and function…surprising considering the name of the place…I know.  I think my favorite spot was actually the first room which gave a historical timeline of time-telling starting in ancient times.  It was interesting to see how the ideas of the ways to mark time have changed throughout history, starting with the sun dial and the calibrated candle.  I can say we all learned something new.  We also got to experiment with the physics behind the mechanisms inside the clock, which provided some interaction with the exhibits.  From a horological perspective, the museum’s collection is quite impressive, with many beautiful, elaborate, and eclectic clocks on display.  I guess had I been by myself or with my husband, I could have enjoyed taking it all in, but trying to keep tabs on my kids made it too stressful.  A few activities for children dotted the layout, such as coloring your own watches and making a clock face with moving hands, but not much beyond that.  Apparently there was a scavenger hunt as well, but the front desk said nothing about it when we arrived, and I didn’t notice it until after we went through the museum.  My oldest daughter would have liked doing it.

Pocket Watches

If you have patient children, or children who have a particular fascination with clocks, this might be worth checking out.  Definitely use a free family pass from the library as the wait is not long and then you won’t feel bad if it doesn’t work out.  Otherwise, save it for a date night to quietly pass the time…

Admission:  $9.00/adult, $5.00/children 5-16, FREE/children 5 and under.

Hours:  Winter hours are Tues.-Sat., 10AM-4PM, check the website for changing hours during other seasons.

National Watch and Clock Museum

514 Poplar Street

Columbia, PA 17512

(717) 684-8261

See for more details!

Grandfather clocks
Discovering the physics behind the clock


“The mouse runs up the clock”
Statue clock
Cool architecture in the atrium











Day Tripper Mom

Jeanette Knaub is a wife and an at-home mom to four children; Jackson (13), Eliana (11), Amalia (8), and Lilah (4). In what little spare time is left, she enjoys volunteering at church, school, and community organizations, reading, running, and of course researching and blogging about her family’s next trip!

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