Museum hopping in Happy Valley

– by Teresa Mull

Happy Valley is rich in history, culture, and creative residents who love celebrating both. The region’s museum scene is top-notch and varied, offering a mix of traditional galleries and more interactive experiences.

The Boal Mansion Courtesy of Boal Mansion 1

Columbus Chapel and Boal Museum

163 Boal Estate Drive
Boalsburg, PA 16827

The Columbus Chapel and Boal Museum
in Boalsburg is a one-stop-shop for history lovers, fashionistas, military buffs, interior design enthusiasts, art fanatics, and anyone who has ever wanted to time travel. The Boal Mansion, you see, is furnished and appointed just as it was when the Boal family lived there, with personal effects everywhere on display.

To visit the Boal Museum is to be transported to another era, and to hear the tales of the fascinating Boal family is better than anything Hollywood could invent. This brings us to the Columbus Chapel: Theodore Davis Boal (fourth generation) married the French-Spanish aristocrat, Mathilde de Lagarde, and according to the museum’s website “imported to their American estate the chapel of the Christopher Columbus family, including an admiral’s desk said by the family to have belonged to the famous explorer himself.” The chapel also contains “fifteenth-century religious statues, sixteenth-century Renaissance paintings and two pieces of the True Cross of Jesus.”

The Boal Estate is also home to the Boal Barn Playhouse, in which a series of events and theatre productions is held throughout the year. A list of plays and other happenings is available HERE.

Bellefonte Art Museum BAM 2021 IMG 9439

Bellefonte Art Museum for Centre County

133 North Allegheny Street
Bellefonte, PA 16823

The building in which the Bellefonte Art Museum (BAM) is housed is a work of historical art in and of itself. The Linn House, as it’s known, was built in 1810 and has connections to the Underground Railroad, making BAM the perfect place for a permanent exhibit containing “information about the operations of the Underground Railroad, artwork depicting the courage and suffering of the enslaved African Americans and stories about the local citizens who helped and supported them.”

BAM features revolving, special exhibitions highlighting the work of both local and international artists who create with ceramics, photography, fiber, glass, and other forms of media. BAM also offers ongoing free community events and workshops for people to partake in crafts, poetry contests, and monthly celebrations of new art installations.

BAM "offers ongoing free community events and workshops for people to partake in crafts, poetry contests, and monthly celebrations of new art installations"

- Teresa Mull

Douglas Albert Gallery

126 East College Avenue
State College, PA 16801

The Douglas Albert Gallery has been a staple in downtown State College since 1981 as “one of the most eclectic galleries in the country!” The Gallery touts itself as a place where you can “immerse yourself in art,” as a broad collection of “paintings, jewelry, hand-blown glass, ceramics, framed and unframed works, and furnishings” is displayed at the shop.

Centre Furnace Mansion Courtesy of Centre Furnace Mansion 1

- Photo courtesy of Centre Furnace Mansion

The Centre County Historical Society, Centre Furnace Mansion

1001 E. College Ave.
State College, PA 16801

Though the stately Centre Furnace Mansion and its expansive, 19th-century-style gardens always make for a refreshing respite from “the real world,” the museum offers new exhibits that highlight the area’s heritage. Currently on display, for instance, is an exhibit on “Iron Making at Centre Furnace,” and past exhibits have included displays on Centre County and the Civil War and the Archaeology of Centre County’s Native Americans. The Centre County Historical Society also offers genealogical and other local historical research resources and events throughout the year.


Eagle Iron Works and Curtin Village

251 Curtin Village Road
Howard, PA

Learn about the history of the local ironworks at Eagle Iron Works and Curtin Village. The site features reconstructed ironworks that were in operation from 1820-1921, as well as the accompanying workers’ village. Guided tours are held on Sundays, but visitors can stop anytime to see the grounds for themselves. On July 23 “Cool Off at Curtin” with a guided tour and ice cream, enjoy Curtin Village Heritage Weekend on August 26 and 27, take a finale tour with living history on September 24 and celebrate Apple Fest on October 7. Program updates and details are posted on the Curtin Village website and Facebook page.

All sports tradition 1

Penn State Museums

Penn State’s Palmer Museum, “the largest art museum collection between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia,” is temporarily closed as it transitions to a new space, but there are plenty of other museums around campus that will scratch the museum itch while you wait for the Palmer to re-open in the Spring of 2024.

The Earth and Mineral Sciences Museum & Art Gallery (6 Deike Building, University Park) showcases Pennsylvania’s unique geography and how Penn State scholars harness our resources in remarkable ways. The EMS gallery, per its website, includes displays of: “fluorescent minerals, flexible sandstone, fossils of every sort, sculptures, paintings, meteorites, meteor-wrongs, mine safety lamps, cartographic tools, and an historic geological relief map of Pennsylvania (among other things).”

All sports gift shop 1

Penn State’s HUB-Robeson Galleries (241 HUB-Robeson Center, University Park) are a student-led project aimed at “[activating] the arts in order to address today’s complex questions and serve local and global communities.” The galleries are “free for all, always” and bring art across campus with “two physical gallery spaces, five display cases, murals, and public projects across the University.”

The Woskob Family Gallery is the Penn State College of Arts and Architecture’s contemporary gallery in downtown State College (146 S Allen Street). Rather than art hanging on a wall, at Woskob, you’re more likely to see large-scale, hanging fish made from paper and bamboo, floating “spirit guides” crafted from plastics and textiles, a light display, or any number of other surprising, thought-provoking work of art.

Located within Beaver Stadium, the Penn State All-Sports Museum offers an in-depth look at the rich tradition and history of the many achievements of Nittany Lion student-athletes. It’s the only place in the world where you can see John Cappelletti’s Heisman Trophy or dozens of other once-in-a-lifetime items that memorialize great moments in Penn State Athletics history.

Discovery Space Courtesy of Discovery Space

- Photo courtesy of Discovery Space

Other museums and galleries to check out:

The Art Alliance of Pennsylvania: workshops, classes, youth programs, exhibitions

The Boalsburg Heritage Museum: historical information and displays, seasonal events

The Discovery Space of Central Pennsylvania: a non-profit science center for kids featuring programs, camps, birthday rentals, exhibits, and more

The Pennsylvania Military Museum: honoring “the story of the Commonwealth’s men and women serving in the Armed Forces, civilian activities on the home front, and Pennsylvania’s contributions to military innovation,” with changing exhibits, tours, and ongoing events

Matson Museum of Anthropology: “campus-based center for cultural education through exhibits about modern and ancient peoples”

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Pasto Agricultural Museum: displaying “1,300 rare and unusual farm and household items dating from 4,000 BC to the 1940s or more than 6,000 years”

Milesburg Museum and Historical Society: “discovering, collecting, preserving, and presenting the cultural heritage of the people of Milesburg”

Lions David House: “Current exhibits span topics from the history of Pennsylvania’s industrial development to handwritten family genealogies. The Lions David House boasts an eclectic collection accumulated solely from donations”

Miles-Humes House, Centre County Library & Historical Museum: “a free community destination providing books, information, Internet access, and technology resources to preserve our heritage and promote a lifetime of reading and learning”

Green Drake Gallery & Arts Center: “an art gallery, a collection of artist studios, a music venue, a creative center for learning, and a community gathering place”

The Happy Valley Adventure Bureau publishes up-to-date event information at