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National Civil War Museum

1 Lincoln Cir., Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

A major museum in Pennsylvania’s state capital of Harrisburg—and one of the country’s biggest museums dedicated to the Civil War—the National Civil War Museum offers a deep exploration of this tumultuous period of American history. Home to thousands of artifacts and extensive galleries, it’s ideal for history buffs, students, and lifelong learners.

Civil War history is close at hand in Harrisburg—major battle sites like Gettysburg are less than an hour away—and the city’s Smithsonian-affiliated National Civil War Museum offers an in-depth study of the conflict, from its earliest roots to the ramifications that are still being felt today.

Across its range of temporary and permanent exhibitions, the museum traces the war’s trajectory, with galleries dedicated to topics ranging from slavery in the United States to the roles of women in the war, President Lincoln’s wartime leadership, and maps of battles. Visitors can explore the exhibitions and artifacts at their own pace, and often spend 2–4 hours at the museum.

  • Tickets can be purchased online or in person; students, seniors, and members of the military receive a discount.

  • There are no food options on-site, so it’s best to have a snack before or after your visit.

  • The museum has a gift shop selling a range of memorabilia, books, and more.

  • The building is fully accessible to wheelchair users, and service dogs are always welcome.

The National Civil War Museum is located at 1 Lincoln Circle in Harrisburg’s Reservoir Park. It’s about a 45-minute walk from downtown, or under 10 minutes by car or taxi. Several buses stop in the area as well.

The museum is open daily, from morning to early evening most days; it opens later on Sundays. It’s closed on New Year’s Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day. There are temporary exhibitions and a range of talks and events throughout the year, so it’s worth checking the schedule before you visit.

To learn even more while in Harrisburg, pair your trip to the National Civil War Museum with a visit to the State Museum of Pennsylvania. Just adjacent to the Pennsylvania State Capitol, the museum also has Civil War–related displays, in addition to galleries that explore anthropology, geology, ecology, and more.


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