Home to historic Ellicott City, Patapsco State Park trails and countless culinary destinations, Howard County is known for its wide range of activities and attractions all within one central location. Adding to the list of things to do in Howard County is its variety of museums and galleries.
A haven for opportunity, the area boasts a unique crossroads of art, history and culture, reaching just about every interest that visitors with a craving for creative experiences can have.
As a private repository of historical records and artifacts located in historic Ellicott City, the Museum of Howard County History tells the story of how the towns and people in the area have transitioned and developed since its establishment in 1851. Like many Mid-Atlantic counties, Howard County began as farmland and forests but quickly became a collection of milling, shipping and manufacturing towns — many of which contain historical significance or landmarks.
The museum boasts intriguing exhibits like “Ellicott City: A Visual History,” which illustrates the significance of Ellicott City through historical and unique objects. Another Ellicott City-focused exhibit, “A River Runs Through It: The Floods of Ellicott City,” demonstrates the disastrous effect that multiple floods had on Main Street businesses and residents.
Also located in historic Ellicott City, the B&O Station Museum is a local favorite for history buffs of all ages. As the oldest remaining passenger train station in the U.S., the railroad station was well-known to passengers from Baltimore in search of better educational and transportation opportunities. Today, the museum serves as a reminder of Howard County’s social and industrial journey from 1831 until now.
Visitors can explore the two-floor museum to see the stories told from the ticket office, men’s waiting room, freight agent’s living quarters and more. Also onsite is a scale model of the first 13 miles of B&O railroad track from Baltimore to Ellicott City as well as the 1927 caboose. For visitors that wish to experience Howard County’s rail history from home, the B&O Station Museum has also begun offering virtual programs.
Howard County is also home to the African Art Museum of Maryland, one of only three museums of its kind in the U.S. that is devoted strictly to the art of Africa. This year, the museum celebrates its 40th anniversary. In recognition of the anniversary, the African Art Museum of Maryland is offering for purchase a limited supply of commemorative necklaces created by renowned artist Elena Crusoe Aiken.
The museum offers many educational programs, exhibits and events for all ages — from school children to grandparents and everyone in between. Some of their offerings include the African Experience Tour, which uses a variety of demonstrations and pieces to illustrate the role of art all across Africa, and The House of JAZZ, which focuses on the African influence behind American jazz music.
For Howard County explorers accompanied by small children or those with a fascination with fantasy, DoodleHATCH is an interactive fantasy gallery that features mythological realms like the Fairy Village, the Hobbit House, the Space Station, the Dead and Breakfast and more. The gallery also offers hands-on experiences like painting activities and PhotoLoco, a picture scavenger hunt that asks sharp-eyed visitors to locate hidden or hard-to-find details and objects throughout the facility.
Outside of these museums and galleries, Howard County hosts many more educational destinations like the Howard County Living Farm Heritage Museum, the Ellicott City Colored School, Benjamin Banneker Historical Park and Museum and more. No matter the interest, Howard County invites visitors and locals alike to keep learning, exploring and creating.