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German Museums and Cultural Heritage Centers in North America

German Museums and Cultural Heritage Centers in North America

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German Museums and Cultural Centers do what they can to preserve the history of Germans in North America. They come in all sizes. Many hold exhibits of objects and ephemera, some are living museums that allow visitors to immerse themselves in another time, and others are a treasure trove for genealogists.

Please help me add to this list of German Museums, Heritage Centers, and other places where German history in America is stored.
Am I missing one? Send me an email [email protected]
Then let’s plan a road trip to visit them!

German Museums and Cultural Centers in North America

Illinois

DANK Haus German American Cultural Center
4740 N Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60625
(773) 561-9181

Our mission is to preserve and promote German culture, heritage, and language through maintaining a center consisting of a museum, art gallery, library, and language school, and organizing educational and social programming focusing on and emphasizing the history, traditions, and contributions of Germans and German Americans.

Iowa

German American Heritage Center & Museum
712 W 2nd St.
Davenport, IA 52802

Founded on August 1, 1994 as a private, not-for-profit organization, the German American Heritage Center (GAHC) seeks to preserve the heritage of our German speaking ancestors for present and future generations and to enrich our knowledge of the German immigrant experience.

Amana Heritage Society
705 44th Ave Amana, IA 52203
(319) 622-3567

The Amana Heritage Museum collections consist of about 12,000 objects and 10,000 archival pieces. All items relate to the history of Amana and its associated religious group The Community of True Inspiration in Germany and America. The period of the collections covers ca. 1700 to the present, with emphasis on the communal period of Amana history (1855-1932). Some of the objects can be viewed on our Online Collections Database. This collection is an important resource for studies of American communal societies and German/American religion and culture. In addition, the research library contains works printed by the Community of True Inspiration and related books from the 18th century to the present. Also, letters and personal papers, genealogical records, and historical photographs provide abundant research sources.

Louisiana

German American Cultural Center & Museum
519 Huey P. Long Ave. Gretna, LA 70053
504-363-4202

The German-American Cultural Center and Museum tells the stories of the German immigrants who founded Mechanikham in 1836 – the village that became Gretna, Louisiana. Those settlers and their descendants forged Gretna’s history.

Germantown Colony Museum
200 Museum Road Minden, LA 71055
318.377.6061

Located a short drive north of Minden off Interstate 20, the Germantown Colony Museum tells the story of a small group of settlers led by the Count and Countess von Leon. The von Leons made their way into the isolated wilderness of north Louisiana to establish a pure Christian community, their own “kingdom of heaven.” The poor Count did not make it all the way, dying of yellow fever along the Red River, but his wife continued on and managed to establish a remarkable settlement that endured for the next 40 years. Members of the original families still live nearby, and the site includes several original buildings and the community cemetery.

Michigan

Frankenmuth Historical Museum
The Frankenmuth Historical Association is a registered 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization located in downtown Frankenmuth. The Association includes an 11 gallery museum, the ​Wolkensdörfer Log House, and Fischer Hall. The Association collects and exhibits artifacts from the history of the Franconian colonies, in addition to offering education programs, events, tours, digital learning, lectures, venue rentals, and more!
 

Missouri

Historic Hermann Museum
312 Schiller Street, Hermann, Missouri 65041.

Located in the 1871 German School Building, the Historic Hermann Museum is home to an extraordinary collection of treasures from Hermann’s past.

Perry County Lutheran Museum
75 Church St./P.O. Box 53 Altenburg, MO 63732
573-824-6070

The Lutheran Heritage Center of the Perry County Lutheran Historical Society has a state-of-the-art museum with a world-class family research library.  The site interprets the 1839 German-Lutheran immigration to Perry County, Missouri.  Included at the site is the first Concordia Log Cabin College, the Christiane Loeber Cabin, as well as two large galleries of historic exhibits and displays.  The research library is a free use collection of early regional church books, regional manuscript collections, maps, as well as German research materials.  Tours of historic Trinity Lutheran are a part of our tour.  The Lutheran Heritage Center is open 360 a year.  Admission is free.  One of the highlights of our year is a 50+ Christmas tree exhibit from Nov. 15-Jan. 15.

New York

Das Haus German Heritage Museum
2549 Niagara Rd Niagara Falls, NY 14304

Visit a bit of the old country. Explore your roots. Learn how these industrious Prussian / German immigrants worked and lived. Personal Tours and Historical Genealogical research.

North Dakota

Germans from Russia Historical Collection (NDSU)
1201 Albrecht Blvd. Fargo, ND 58102

The Germans from Russia Heritage Collection (GRHC) at the NDSU Libraries was established in July 1978, which was first housed with the North Dakota Institute for Regional Studies. As a land-grant university, there was interest in establishing a collection of materials about Germans from Russia ancestry, which includes a large population of North Dakota. Currently the GRHC houses numerous books, manuscript collections, and photographs, as well as oral histories, and other historical material. GRHC in cooperation with Prairie Public has produced award-winning documentaries of the Germans from Russia Series beginning in 1999. GRHC’s Journey to the Homeland Tours began in May 1996, with the 24th Homeland Tour in May 2020.

Ohio

German Heritage Museum
4764 West Fork Road
Cincinnati, OH 45247
or call (513) 598-5732

This museum, located in West Fork Park, is the repository of historical artifacts and records of the contributions of the many German-Americans who have made Cincinnati the great place it is today.

German Culture Museum
4877 Olde Pump Street Walnut Creek, Ohio 44687
330-763-1390

The museum houses an impressive collection of area memorabilia and displays of Amish, German and Swiss heritage. Focusing specifically on the history and settlement of Holmes County and Walnut Creek Township. It gives a snapshot of life in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania German Cultural Heritage Center
22 Luckenbill Road, Kutztown, PA 19530
Phone: 610-683-1589

The Pennsylvania German Cultural Heritage Center is an open-air folklife museum and research center dedicated to preserving and celebrating Pennsylvania German folk culture, history, and language in a unique educational setting at Kutztown University.

The German Society of Pennsylvania
611 Spring Garden Street – Philadelphia, PA  19123
(P) 215-627-2332

The German Society of Pennsylvania seeks to foster good understanding between the peoples of the United States of America and Germany by maintaining an awareness of German culture and traditions, and by promoting the understanding of German and German-American contributions to the history, culture, economy, science, and technology of the United States. They offer cultural programs, activities and experiences, such as concerts, lectures, movies, seminars, social and special events to members and the public at large. Teach German classes, and promote the use of the Joseph Horner Memorial Library, the largest private collection of publications in the German language outside universities in the United States.

Moravian Museum of Bethlehem
505 Main St. Bethlehem, PA
610-691-6055, or toll free at 1-800-360-TOUR

The Moravian Museum of Bethlehem Complex includes the 1741 GemeinhausSingle Sisters HouseNain-Schober House, and the 1752 Apothecary. These sites are available to tour as part of the Moravian Museum of Bethlehem tour at request.

Schwenkfelder Library & Heritage Center
105 Seminary Street, Pennsburg, PA 18073
Phone 215-679-3103

The Schwenkfelder Library & Heritage Center, with its internationally recognized collections and research facilities, engages visitors in exploration of the themes of religious freedom, tolerance, migration, and heritage in their own lives and the lives of their families through the stories of the Schwenkfelders and the Pennsylvania Germans of the Perkiomen region—people whose bonds of faith, families, and community tell a fundamental American story.

Knauss Homestead Preservation Society
152 East Main Street (Rear) Emmaus, PA 18049

The Knauss Homestead Preservation Society was established in 1992 by a group of volunteers determined to save the Heinrich Knauss house and barn after having spent the last several decades vacant and in disrepair. We continue that work today, focused on restoring the Homestead to its authentic 18th century self. Whether it’s a group focused on genealogy, art, antiques, or even ghost stories and painting – we want our historic treasure to be able to be enjoyed and provide a truly authentic glimpse of life as it was at the time of the birth of America.

The Shelter House Society
601 South 4th Street Emmaus, PA
Call 610-965-9258 to schedule your visit.

From 1734 on, the Shelter House provided refuge to pioneers and settlers. Today, this colonial Germanic cabin stands as one of the oldest continuously inhabited log structures in the Lehigh Valley.

Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum
2451 Kissel Hill Rd, Lancaster, PA 17601

Whether you come for the animals, to learn about early Pennsylvania German life, or to stroll the grounds and get an up-close look at the largest collection of Pennsylvania German artifacts in the United States, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

Historic Trappe including the Henry Muhlenberg House
Henry Muhlenberg House  201 W. Main Street  Trappe, PA 19426
(610) 489-7560

Highlights include splendid examples of Pennsylvania German and Philadelphia furniture, silver, and portraits—many from the Muhlenberg family—on loan from Muhlenberg descendants, the Dietrich American Foundation, Rocky Hill Collection, Wunsch Americana Foundation, and many private collectors and regional institutions. Guided tours of Augustus Lutheran ChurchDewees Tavern, the Henry Muhlenberg House, and The Speaker’s House are available by appointment or during regular business hours. Contact [email protected] for more information.

The Center for Pennsylvania German Studies
301 W Main St, Trappe, PA 19426

The Center for Pennsylvania German Studies includes five galleries for changing exhibitions and ongoing displays of furniture, fraktur, redware, metalwork, textiles, and more. Housed in the Dewees Tavern, the Center includes a research library and archives focusing on local history, genealogy, and decorative arts. There is also dedicated space for classes, workshops, and a fraktur/textiles study center.

Historic Schaefferstown
111 North Market Street. Schaefferstown, PA 17088-0307
717-949-2244

Historic Schaefferstown, Inc.’s Mission is the collection, preservation, study, and dissemination of the history and folk culture of the Pennsylvania Germans in South Central Pennsylvania, with particular focus on Schaefferstown, Pennsylvania. The organization provides information through educational programs for adults and children, tours of its buildings and collections, festivals and special events, and publications of research and promotional materials.

Amos Herr House 
1756 Nissley Road, P.O. Box 52Landisville PA 17538
717-898-8822

The Herr Family Homestead is a fine example of a Lancaster County farm property. You are invited to visit the buildings and grounds and to explore the history and traditions of Pennsylvania Germans in this southeastern area of the state.

South Dakota

Heritage Hall Museum and Archives
 880 S Cedar St, Freeman, SD 57029
605.925.7545

 Heritage Hall Museum & Archives in Freeman, South Dakota, tells the story of the Germans-from-Russia immigrants and others who settled in Southeastern Dakota Territory in the 1870s. Come and discover more! Pioneer stories and artifacts tells the stories of  the difficulties of living on the plains and the gradual building up of the community that is now Freeman, South Dakota.

Texas

Brenham Heritage Museum
313 East Alamo Street
Brenham, TX 77833

Maifest Collection- Since 1881, a colorful scene has unfolded in Brenham each May. This festival, known as Maifest, is a celebration highlighting German heritage, as well as showcasing the youth of the community. Except for several years during World War I and World War II, this event has been held annually since 1881, and includes elaborate coronations and a parade in downtown Brenham.

Pioneer Museum
325 W Main, Fredericksburg, TX

Fredericksburg’s German heritage stretches back over 170 years. Get a hands-on glimpse of that history at the 3.5 acre Pioneer Museum Complex in downtown Fredericksburg, complete with buildings, artifacts and displays of our areas earliest pioneers. Several times a year, the Pioneer Museum will hold events staffed by docents in period dress that are fun for the whole family including storytelling, rope making, soap making, sheep shearing and more.

Vereins Kirche
100 W Main St Fredericksburg, TX 78624

The Vereins Kirche Museum tells the story of the two Vereins Kirche buildings. The story begins with the first German settlers to Texas and continues to present-day Fredericksburg from the view of the Vereins Kirche.

German Texan Heritage Society
507 East 10th Street Austin, TX

We are committed to the preservation of the history and heritage of German-Texans by promoting and providing educational experiences in its culture and language and by encouraging within our Texas public schools, colleges, private institutions and other organizations similar learning opportunities in all of the heritage, values and language that make up the unique culture of our state.

Texas Wendish Heritage Museum
1011 County Road 212 Giddings, Texas 78942-5940

The Texas Wendish Heritage Museum preserves the history of the Texas Wends, Slavic immigrants from Lusatia, an area in eastern Germany. Today the Wends of Lusatia are called Sorbs. The Museum is a complex of buildings which are connected by porches. In the center is a new facility with a display interpreting the history of the Wends. It also houses the Offices, Gift Shop, Library, and Archives. To the right and left are the old St. Paul school buildings. Exhibits include relics from the old country and Texas. Folk dress of Lusatia, the traditional Texas wedding dresses, and the beautiful Wendish Easter eggs are a few of the colorful exhibits. Outdoor exhibits include two log buildings and farming equipment.The 1856 log room, built by the Kurio family, originally part of a dog trot home, is furnished as a bed room. A section of the earlier 1855 room is also preserved on the Museum grounds. The Mertink family log room is used to exhibit carpenter’s and farming tools. The Lillie Moerbe Caldwell Memorial Library specializes in the history and genealogy of the Wendish people. It welcomes donations of family histories and genealogies.The Archives includes rare books in Wendish and German, manuscripts, personal papers, and a photographic collection.

Virginia

Fort Germanna Visitor Center, Museum and Library
Virginia Route #3 (2062 Germanna Highway
Locust Grove, Virginia 22508
The Germanna Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to exploring the Colonial Virginia frontier via the historic 1714 Fort Germanna and its German colonists and their descendants. Today the Foundation maintains a genealogical reference library, historical archive, exhibits and a database..

Washington DC

German American Heritage Museum
719 6th St. NW Washington, DC 20001
(202) 467-5000

The German-American Heritage Museum is the only national museum to celebrate, display, and commend the achievements of immigrants who came from German-speaking countries and achieved the American dream. It traces their progress with a timeline, which runs the full length of the exhibition hall. This timeline represents the 400-year presence of German-speakers, who came to America, starting in the 1600s.

Wisconsin

Germantown Historical Society
N128 W18780 Holy Hill Road (P.O. Box 31) Germantown, WI 53022
262-628-3170

Three 1850s Restored Museums are directed by Germantown Historical Society through membership and donations. An original 1850s settlement on 9 acre park at Holy Hill Rd, Hwy 145/Fond du Lac Ave & Maple Rd. Our Mission: Collecting and preserving the artifacts, legacy and built environment of the citizens of Germantown Township since the 1830’s and communicating their life stories in the context of their sites; and educating the citizens and visitors of today and the future.

Old World Wisconsin
W372 S9727 Hwy 67 Eagle, WI 53119

Old World Wisconsin includes 60 beautifully restored historic structures on over 600 acres of picturesque landscape. Through stories of perseverance, you explore the lives of those who came before us – connecting people and inspiring understanding. Your day will be fun, engaging, enriching, and authentic as you encounter history by exploring sensory-rich spaces, stories, and hands-on activities.

Spirit Historical Society- previously German Settlement History, Inc
W1316 State Hwy. 86 Brantwood, WI 54513

Spirit Historical Society, Inc. is the successor of German Settlement History, Inc.. Spirit Historical Society, Inc. is organized for educational purposes to protect, conserve and display buildings, artifacts and documents of historical value and interest in the Towns of Spirit and Hill in Price County and surrounding Spirit River Valley.

Historic Milwaukee – German Heritage Private Tour
Turner Hall 1040 Vel R. Phillips Ave. Milwaukee, WI 53203
414-277-7795

Walking down Old World Third Street today you are not likely to see many German shops advertising “English Spoken Here” as a special or unique service; but as early as 1848, Germans represented 1/3 of the entire population in Milwaukee and this section of the city was the life’s blood of German immigrants. This tour showcases buildings that represent German-American business, education, faith, politics, entertainment, and publishing. Join our experienced tour guides and learn about Milwaukee’s most notable German biermeisters, tanners, artists, butchers, bakers, merchants, publishers, masons, architects and clergymen. This tour celebrates Milwaukee’s German heritage and recognizes the German community as having one of the greatest cultural impacts on our city

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