National Watch and Clock Museum - Columbia, PA - Horological Museum

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The National Watch and Clock Museum is located in Columbia, PA. Columbia is located west of Lancaster, PA and southeast of Harrisburg, PA on the Susquehanna River. The address, 514 Poplar Street, is easily accessible from Route 30.

The Museum was founded in 1977 by the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors (NAWCC), a non-profit organization. The NAWCC supports and encourages the advancement of the art and science of horology (timekeeping). There are more than 25,000 members of the NAWCC. At the time of its opening, the Museum, operated by the NAWCC, housed 1,000 artifacts. Currently, the Museum maintains a collection of more than 12,000 items. The Museum is believed to be the largest horological museum in North America. Its exhibits include international items, which makes the Museum more comprehensive than any other in North America.

The Museum is divided into sections that house items in various categories. There are sections for: maritime timepieces, 18th, 19th, and 20th Century items, Asian Horology, tower clocks, wristwatches, pocket watches, European items, and more. The Museum also runs special exhibits. Monthly, the Museum highlights a specific artifact of interest on their NAWCC message board. A recent highlighted item was a stem-wound, 1/4 repeater pocket watch, with brass movement. Another recent item was a Skeleton clock with orrery made by made by Gerhard Hutter. An orrery is a planetary positional representation. This clock won a 1984 Medal of Excellence.

From April to December of 2009, the Museum ran a special exhibit called Time & Exploration. This exhibit was funded by a number of organizations including the John Frederick Steinman Foundation and the Gallet Watch Group. The purpose of the exhibit was to emphasize the relation between timekeeping and exploration; to include aeronautical, maritime, and space navigation. Artifacts include astrolabes, marine chronometers, compasses, sextants, surveying equipment, and chronometers. These items were loaned by organizations like NASA and the Maritime Museum in Virginia.

The Museum also accepts donations that will benefit its collections in some manner. The donor is asked to provide as much information as possible about the item. If accepted, the donor will receive a Certificate of Gift that transfers ownership to the Museum. There are additional ways in which to support the Museum including the Timepiece Adoption Program. Starting at $250, for one year the name of the patron will be labeled near the item and the patron will receive an 8'' x 10'' photo of their adopted piece.

Volunteer work is available at the Museum. Positions include: aid to the curator, office assistance, gift shop assistant, and gallery guide. No prior experience or knowledge of horology is needed. For more information on volunteering, call 717-684-8261 ext. 237. The Museum also offers a program for children 7-15 years of age called the Junior Horologists Club. Membership is $25 for the first year and provides a quarterly newsletter, various discounts, and free admission to the Museum itself.

In summer, the Museum is open on Sundays 12-4pm and closed most Mondays and major holidays. In the winter, their hours are Tuesday - Saturday 10-4pm and closed Sundays, Mondays, and major holidays. Admission for adults is $8, senior citizens are $7, children (5-16 years) are $4, and children under 5 are free. Groups of ten or more with prior registration are eligible for discounts.

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