The Pro Football Hall of Fame is the "Ballhalla" of the National Football League, where its most glorious warriors, coaches, and officials are enshrined after honorably departing the field of battle. Upon entering the museum, pigskin disciples are greeted (though not animatronically) by a larger-than-life statue of celebrated athlete Jim Thorpe, followed by an exhibit chronicling the early years of pro football, when ragtag teams played to meager crowds with little protection. As you push your way upfield with a series of running plays and hard tackles, you'll find yourself surrounded by walls of glittering heads in the Hall of Fame Gallery, where each Hall of Fame member is immortalized with a bronze bust that eerily chants Super Bowl predictions every solstice at the stroke of midnight. The polish is still gleaming on the busts of Emmitt Smith and Jerry Rice, who just this year joined the storied ranks of legends like Jim Brown and Johnny Unitas. Other exhibits include the Lamar Hunt Super Bowl Gallery, where the most sovereign of football games is given proper retrospection through the display of authentic, recognizable jerseys and footballs from the most momentous plays.
MAPS Air Museum’s historical exhibits and collection of military aircraft educate visitors on military aviation history and Northwest Ohio’s role in it. Restored aircraft such as the F-86 SabreDog and B-26 Marauder (one of only seven on display in the world) give guests an up-close look at actual mechanical birds, rather than having to imagine real birds being piloted by humans. Permanent displays on Pearl Harbor, the Tuskegee Airmen, and Rosie the Riveter delve into iconic moments of World War II, and artifacts and memorabilia from veteran Reamer E. “Buzz” Sewell trace one soldier’s journey. For more information on tours or special events, visit the museum online.
Since 1976, craftsman Larry Pulka has constructed exact replicas of famed seafaring ships on a miniaturized scale. The Blue Water Majesty Museum displays his entire collection of model military and merchant vessels, allowing visitors to examine the intricate hulls, ornate decks, masterful masts, and hand-carved figureheads of dozens of watercraft assembled with old-fashioned woods. Nautical history buffs will appreciate the inclusion of several of our nation’s most important sea crafts, such as the privateer vessel Rattlesnake, whose full-size forefather floated the Atlantic during the American Revolution and blockaded England during the Beatles' British Invasion. A copy of the 1797-built Constitution uses Laotian boxwood, pink ivory, and Honduras rosewood to capture the essence of the warship, which won more than 40 battles.
Former congressional spouse Mary Regula founded the National First Ladies' Library after her own research of the subject failed to find a comprehensive resource for first lady lore. The result of Regula's efforts is two brainchildren that seek to bridge first lady-shaped gaps in historical knowledge: the Education and Research Center and the Saxton McKinley House. Guided 90-minute tours include access to each location. Begin by perusing the public portion of the Education and Research Center, which includes a collection of literature written by and about first ladies. Miniature reproductions of first ladies' dresses also make an appearance at select times, having been recovered from sneaky doppelgängers who used slapdash cloning machines to gain VIP gala access. A theater styled in Victorian aesthetic shows documentaries from a stock of more than 500 features starring presidents' leading ladies. Currently on exhibit is the Heroes of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, a showcase of female Medal of Freedom recipients including Betty Ford, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, and Chief Wilma Mankiller (showing through September 9).
The Akron Art Museum's collection showcases art after 1850, allowing visitors to breathe freely and without fear of catching the plague from Medieval shrouds. Works by Ohio-affiliated artists such as Frank Duveneck are joined by renowned pieces by Andy Warhol, El Anatsui, and Doris Salcedo, as well as traveling exhibitions. The upcoming exhibit Who Shot Rock & Roll: A Photographic History 1955 to the Present features 175 pictures by photographers including Richard Avedon, Diane Arbus, and Annie Leibovitz.
Founded in 1934, the Cuyahoga Valley Art Center is a self-supporting nonprofit that offers classes led by experienced artists to pupils of any skill level. Aspiring sculptors can jump hands first into the beginning pottery class, which includes a kiln-firing fee and a half block of clay ready to be deftly shaped into a bowl, mug, or more shapely block of clay. A sketchbook and drawing pencils are bestowed upon all who enter either drawing class, where former tracers will learn the fundamentals of elevating a flat image to realistic three-dimensionality. Classes take place at the center itself, which also contains a first-floor gallery where student and instructor work is proudly displayed–increasing your changes of being romanced by every sexy art thief in the greater Akron area. Check out a complete description of classes before registering.