Founded by William Penn in 1682, Chester County, Pennsylvania has truly seen it all. Over the centuries, it has witnessed countless important historical moments and cultural milestones. Many of them are commemorated in our fine local museums.
Whether you’re here visiting or are a longtime resident intent on enjoying an epic staycation, hitting any one (or more) of the museums on this list will only deepen your appreciation for this wonderful region.
Unique Museums in Chester County
The Wharton Esherick Museum
1520 Horseshoe Trail, Malvern, PA 19355 · (610) 644-5822
Located atop scenic Valley Forge Mountain, The Wharton Esherick Museum is set in the former home and studio of famed twentieth-century American artist Wharton Esherick. While the buildings themselves are notable features, the collection also includes over 3,000 objects and documents encompassing Esherick’s life and work. In addition to the main collection, visitors can also view pieces from the annual juried woodworking exhibition.
American Helicopter Museum & Education
1220 American Blvd, West Chester, PA 19380 · (610) 436-9600
The American Helicopter Museum displays over thirty-five different aircraft, including helicopters, autogyros, drones, and many other varieties. Their dynamic exhibits cover everything from the history of aviation to the Whirly Girls! In addition, they run annual events and STEM programs for both children and adults. Be sure to check the websites for specifics in advance of your visit.
Chester County Historical Society
225 N High St, West Chester, PA 19380 · (610) 692-4800
You’ll want to plan ahead for this one: the Chester County Historical Society is currently open by appointment only. Those who do schedule a visit will find their time well invested. Exhibits feature local craftsmanship; and in the History Lab, children can enjoy hands-on learning experiences: old-fashioned games, quizzes, books, puzzles, and dress up!
National Iron & Steel Heritage Museum
50 S 1st Avenue, Coatesville, PA 19320 · (610) 384-9282
As the name indicates, the National Iron & Steel Heritage Museum promotes an understanding of the iron and steel history in Southeastern Pennsylvania. When you visit, you can learn about the past as it relates to how the iron and steel industries have shaped the region.
- Iron & Steel Trail
- Lukens Steel Historical Timeline
- Iron and Steel Hall of Fame
- How Steel Is Made
- Pennsylvania Iron & Steel: 300 Years of Industrial Might
This is local and regional history brought to life!
Antique Ice Tool Museum
825 Sconnelltown Rd, West Chester, PA 19382 · (610) 738-7081
Housed in a completely renovated 1834 stone bank barn, this museum is a treat for the eyes as well as the mind. This museum honors the preservation of the natural ice trade and houses the largest private collection of ice tools and memorabilia in the United States. The collection includes vehicles, tools, ice chests and coolers, toys, and other nostalgic items. This museum is one-of-a-kind, a “Chester County Treasure”!
690 Sugartown Rd, Malvern, PA 19355 · (610) 640-2667
This fully restored nineteenth-century village right in the middle of Malvern offers visitors a window in time. Visitors to Historic Sugartown can enjoy guided tours that include stops at The General Store, the Ivanhoe Lodge, Carriage Museum, 1805 Quaker Farm House, Book Bindery, and Bank Barn. Along the way, you’ll walk the historic streets, drinking in the sights, sounds, and smells of the original residents. Historic Sugartown offers a totally immersive experience, one you’ll cherish for years to come.
Travel Responsibly: In an effort to limit the impact of COVID-19, mask-wearing and social distancing are required in all public spaces per official guidelines. Operating times and services remain unpredictable during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Before visiting these sites in person, be sure to check each museum’s website for the latest updates. Advance tickets or reservations are highly recommended or necessary at many spots. Your best bet: Plan ahead.
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