The Museum Center


The Museum Center is the largest half-dome in the western hemisphere. Union Terminal inspired the Super Friends' Hall of Justice in the 1970s and was a top-rated train station in the 1930s. Those are just a couple of interesting facts but the Museum Center holds a special place in my heart, We maintained a family membership plan for years. I homeschooled my children, and we utilized this valuable community resource so often that it sometimes felt like home. We would often visit when most other children were in school. The place would be far less crowded and it felt like it was ours. I know all the best spots to sit in the Duke Energy children's museum so I could see my little loves as they explored and learned through play. We spent time in control tower 'A,  looking at trains and marveling in the Omnimax theater.  We had a feeling of a sensory emersion into space, Nature, history, or whatever topic was displayed. I look back on those memories fondly. It was a magical time. 


Here are a few of my favorite hidden gems:

  1. The mystical whispering fountains. If you go to either side of the rotunda by the drinking fountains, you can hear each other quietly talking due to the unusual acoustics of the half dome. 
  2. At Nature's Trading Post, kids can trade things found in Nature, like fossils, antlers, seed pods, rocks, shells, cocoons, snakeskin, and turtle shells. They earn points and exchange them for shark teeth, minerals, and more as they learn to explore the world around them. For an extensive list of museum guidelines and scavenger hunt information, check out  TMC website. 
  3. They offer homeschool and supplementary classes for students. I'll never forget the day I stood above the course in the mezzanine and observed my vegetarian kids dissect a piglet. They were thrilled and horrified at the same time. The great thing is that the classes taught by scientists and other professionals who are passionate about their work, are exciting and memorable. 


To the meat of this page, the history of Union Terminal.

A few quick facts. 

  • Union Terminal opened on March 31, 1933. 
  • The total cost of the project was $41.5 million. 
  • Union Terminal saw 216 trains per day during its peak and was designed to accommodate as many as 17,000 people.
  • Alfred Fellheimer and Stewart Wagner designed the structure. The final design followed the prevalent art deco style of that era. 
  •  At the time it was built, Union Terminal had the largest half-dome in the world; in 1973, Sydney's Opera House became the largest, but even today, TMC is the largest half-dome in the Western hemisphere. 
  • The terminal held up to twenty thousand people during WWII because many soldiers reported to their posts by train. 
  • In 1972, the last train service to Union Terminal ended due to the more common form of transportation, cars and planes. 
  • The City of Cincinnati offered to lease the building for only one dollar a year after they bought it in 1975. They simply didn't know what else to do with it. 

 painting of union terminal with a candle depicting the image on the label


this blog offers a behind the scenes peek at union terminal