Insider’s Guide To Must-See Museums In Gettysburg PA for 2023
The museums in Gettysburg PA are unlike any you can find in any other historic town in the United States.
Yes, this is a town that became famous because of a great battle, but the museums in Gettysburg are not just centered on the Civil War.
For instance, there is a WWII Museum, a Train Museum and even a Virtual Reality museum that is located in the original station where Abraham Lincoln arrived to deliver his Gettysburg Address in November of 1863.
So whether you are a family traveling with kids, a Civil War buff who wants to take a deep dive into the Battle of Gettysburg, or a spouse who is just tagging along—there are museums in Gettysburg that will amaze and entertain you.
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What To Expect In This Guide To Museums In Gettysburg
The first stop for most visitors is the Gettysburg National Military Park Visitors Center. It is a great place to get a general idea of what occurred during the three days of battle, as well as figure out the places you wish to visit.
It is also the place to find suggested itineraries, purchase tickets for tours, and shop at their extensive bookstore and gift shop.
While you’re at the Visitor’s Center, you can also visit the Cyclorama Center, an enormous, 360-degree hand-panted canvas of the Battle of Gettysburg. This iconic work of art is longer than a football field and higher than a four-story building.
When you’re done with your tours at these two sites, you will be ready to experience the other museums in Gettysburg.
Before Your Gettysburg Museums Visit
Keep in mind that when you visit Gettysburg, you will not be alone!
More than one million tourists visit the town each year to learn about the impact of the Battle of Gettysburg (July 1, 2 and 3, 1863) and try to understand the chaos of the aftermath of the conflict.
You may want to read about the tours in Gettysburg and mistakes to avoid when visiting the battlefield before your visit.
Some of the Civil War museums in Gettysburg focus on the battle itself, while others show the impact of the battle on civilians in the town. Still others delve into topics and eras other than the Civil War.
Whether you have children that like to “touch,” are a ghost hunter looking for new haunts, or want to hear about what the civilians went through before, during and after the battle in 1863, there is a museum in Gettysburg that will interest you.
A Sample Of The Museums In Gettysburg
Beyond The Battle Museum
Location: 625 Biglerville Road, Gettysburg PA
The newest museum in Gettysburg is called Beyond the Battle and is dedicated to the entire scope of Adams County’s history, from prehistoric times to contemporary times.
Visitors can explore 12 interactive exhibit galleries packed with rare artifacts, informational displays and immersive exhibits that are both entertaining and educational.
Caught in the Crossfire is Beyond The Battle Museum’s premier exhibit that helps visitors understand the Battle of Gettysburg and the impact it had on the local residents of the community.
Plenty of free parking and gift shop selling t-shirts, books and souvenirs.
What Does It Cost?
- General: $15
- Youth (K through 12): $10
- Seniors 65 and over: $14
- Adams County Residents: $13
- Children 5 and under: Complimentary
Gettysburg Heritage Center
Location: 297 Steinwehr Avenue, Gettysburg, PA (717-334-6245)
You may know this as the old Gettysburg Wax Museum, but the inside is quite different these days.
Completely renovated, this Gettysburg museum—now called the Gettysburg Heritage Center—offers a unique look at, not only the Battle of Gettysburg, but its impact on the town of Gettysburg and the residents as well.
This museum’s self-guided tour provides a visual and interactive experience from both the town and battle perspectives. The Heritage Center also features an animated map that takes an in-depth look at the three-day battle, including the aftermath.
Imagine the impact on the citizens of this small town when the battle was over. The wounded outnumbered the number of residents ten to one.
With very few doctors, the care of the wounded fell onto the shoulders of the women and children of the town, as their husbands, for the most part, were away fighting.
Here is a short clip on the Care of the Wounded display at the Gettysburg Heritage Center.
The Heritage Center holds special events and book signings throughout the year.
Hours of operation vary by season, but they are open daily except for major holidays.
PRO TIP: Great gift shop with lots of books and Civil War-related items, apparel, replica weapons, collectibles, games and toys.
Free parking available in a large parking lot.
What Does It Cost?
- Adults (13 and over) $9.00
- Children (6 to 12) $7.00
- Children 5 and under are free
- Call for group rates 717-334-6245
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Shriver House Museum
Location: 309 Baltimore St., Gettysburg PA (717-337-2800)
Young and old alike will enjoy taking a trip back in time at the historic Shriver House.
Built in 1860, the Shriver house has been meticulously restored to tell the civilian side of the Battle of Gettysburg. Visitors move from room to room with a period-dressed guide and learn about the Shriver family: George, Hettie, Sadie (7) and Mollie (5).
Every room in this historic house seems like it is frozen in time to help reveal the family’s story.
Visitor especially love seeing the attic of the Shriver House, which was used by Confederate sharpshooters to fire at Union troops on nearby Cemetery Hill.
Two Confederate soldiers are known to have died there, and investigators have confirmed that the stains on the attic floors are from human blood.
Amazingly, this historic home sat abandoned for nearly 30 years before being purchased and renovated in 1996. Hundreds of items were found during the restoration of this Gettysburg museum, including toys, paper dolls, eyeglasses and jewelry.
The most historically relevant items discovered were six Civil War bullets (three of them still contained black powder) and medical supplies.
Hours of operation vary by season, but this Gettysburg museum is open most days.
The Shriver House offers special Thanksgiving and Christmas tours that fill up quickly so reserve a spot ahead of time.
If you’re visiting over the holidays, don’t miss the Gettysburg Christmas Festival.
Allow about one hour to see all parts of the house and browse the gift shop.
Metered parking is available on the street directly in front of this Gettysburg museum.
What Does It Cost?
- Adults: $11.95
- Children 7-12: $8.50
- Group rates available for 10 or more.
Gettysburg History Center Diorama
Location: 241 Steinwehr Avenue, Gettysburg, PA (717-334-6408)
It’s hard to understand the maneuvering of the armies over the entire three-day battle, and with 6,000 acres in the Gettysburg National Military Park, it’s impossible for most visitors to cover everything in a short timeframe.
At the Gettysburg Diorama museum, more than 20,000 hand-painted miniatures provide a great overview of the battle in a 30-minute program that features both sound and lights.
From the first shot fire west of the small town to the end of the fighting at the high water mark on the Southern end of Gettysburg, visitors can watch the entire three days of battle play out.
This is the largest military diorama in the United States and definitely helps provide a great overview of the complexities of the Battle of Gettysburg.
The Gettysburg Diorama museum also features a large gift shop on the first floor level as well as down stairs, so if you’re looking for Gettysburg-related memorabilia, check both of them out.
As with most other museums in Gettysburg, hours of operation vary depending on the season.
Metered parking is available on the street.
What Does It Cost?
- Adults are $9.00
- Seniors and Children 6 to 12 $6.00.
- Children 5 and under are free.
- Call for group rates 717-334-6408
Gettysburg Museum of History
Location: 219 Baltimore Street, Gettysburg PA
The Gettysburg Museum of History is perhaps one of Gettysburg’s best kept secrets because it’s FREE.
This museum features one of the most extensive private collections of artifacts from the American Civil War, World War I, World War II, Presidencies and Pop Culture in the United States.
In short, you can sum it up by using their tagline: There’s a whole lot of history here.
There is truly something for everyone to see, no matter their interests or likes. From World War II memorabilia including the collection of Major Dick Winters (Band of Brothers) to a piece of bone with a bullet lodged within from the Gettysburg battlefield.
The museum is filled with surprise after surprise of things you never knew existed and certainly never imagined you’d see in public.
For instance, President John F. Kennedy’s boxer shorts are displayed right beside Marilyn Monroe’s bra.
You can see everything from President Grant’s cigar to Saddam Hussein’s dinnerware — and thousands of artifacts from historic events in between.
There is also a grotesque mummy head, the chair that General Meade sat in at the Widow Leister house and a tiny glove that belonged to Mrs. Tom Thumb.
With more than 4,000 artifacts on display, this Gettysburg museum was even featured on the popular television show American Pickers. No matter what era of history you enjoy, you’ll find a historic treasure here that pertains to it.
The Gettysburg Museum of History is truly an amazing and one-of-a-kind experience.
Metered parking is available in front of this museum in Gettysburg.
Allow a minimum of 30 minutes. You will probably need more than that!
What Does It Cost?
Gettysburg Lincoln Railroad Station
Location: 35 Carlisle St., Gettysburg, PA
From the Civil War to Virtual Reality? Yes, Virtual Reality meets the battlefield at this museum in Gettysburg.
The Gettysburg Train Station is famous for having served as a field hospital during the Battle, and is the site where Lincoln arrived on Nov. 18, 1863, for the dedication of the Gettysburg National Cemetery.
Now, with the help of virtual reality technology, visitors can travel back to 1863 by picking one of three historic figures and experiencing the battle through their eyes.
One of the figures is Cornelia Hancock, who traveled to Gettysburg alone to serve as a nurse at only 23 years old.
The second figure is Eli Blanchard, an 18-year-old volunteer soldier who went from drummer for the Iron Brigade to assisting surgeons at field hospitals.
Lastly, there is Basil Biggs, a fee black man who collected supplies at the station for the task of exhuming bodies of the fallen Union soldiers for proper burial in the national cemetery.
Allow 40 minutes.
Limited metered on-street parking. Racehorse Alley Parking Deck parking one block south, down Racehorse Alley.
What Does It Cost?
- Adults 13 and up: $10.95
- Seniors 65 and up: $9.95
- AAA Adult and Veterans/Military: $8.95
- Children 6 to 12: $7.95
Jennie Wade House Museum
548 Baltimore Street, Gettysburg, PA (717-334-4100)
One of the most unique and memorable museums in Gettysburg for both children and adults is the Jennie Wade House and Museum.
Jennie Wade was the only civilian killed during the Battle of Gettysburg. She was only 20 years old when a bullet ripped through two doors and killed her while she was kneading dough.
In addition to period-dressed docents telling the story of Jennie, the museum also features artifacts from that fatal day in 1863. These include the artillery shell that punctured the roof of the house, the original dough bin she was using at the time of her death, and a floorboard with Jennie’s blood still on it.
The bullet holes in the house and the doors are clearly evident, and paint a vivid picture of the violence of the Battle of Gettysburg.
Visitors follow the footsteps of the family as they were forced to crawl through a hole in the wall made by an artillery shell and hide in the basement for days with Jennie’s body.
This Gettysburg museum has a well-stocked gift shop for picking up souvenirs.
Plenty of free parking in an adjacent parking lot.
What Does It Cost? (Guided Tour)
- Adults: $15.00
- Children ages 6 though 12: $12
- 5 and under: Free
Lincoln Train Museum
425 Steinwehr Avenue, Gettysburg PA (717-334-5678)
All aboard for a great experience at the iconic Lincoln Train Museum that has been a part of Gettysburg since the 1960s.
This Gettysburg museum is within walking distance of the location where President Lincoln delivered his Gettysburg Address at the Gettysburg National Cemetery.
Visitors can take a memorable virtual reality ride aboard a real railroad car that bumps along the tracks as Lincoln shares his love of America with you.
The Lincoln Train Museum in Gettysburg is great for children, train lovers and everyone in between.
The museum collection includes everything from Americana and politics to sports, Hollywood, the Wild West, and lots of railroad history and memorabilia.
The train displays will wow the children, and the historic artifacts will amaze the adults.
I was very excited to see the antique collection of old train whistles, including one from the railroad legend Casey Jones. Railroad enthusiasts will love this museum and so will the kids.
Free parking available on site.
What Does It Cost?
- Ages 5 through adult $9.00
- Active Military $7.00
- Children 2 to 5: $7.00
- Ages 2 and under FREE
- A 0.25 charge helps offset credit card fees.
- Group rates available
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Children of Gettysburg 1863
Location: 451 Baltimore St., Gettysburg PA
This Gettysburg museum features hands on history for kids!
More than a typical children’s museum, the Children of Gettysburg 1863 tells the engaging stories of the children, teens and young adults who lived in the small town of Gettysburg when two great armies battled in the streets.
The museum is located in the historic Rupp House, which was the property of John and Caroline Rupp and their six children in 1863 when the Battle of Gettysburg took place.
This unique program really engages children (and young adults), because they get to see how the battle impacted the lives of families. It is definitely a hands-on experience as they are encouraged to touch, hold, seek and explore.
Activities include feeling the weight of the packs that soldiers carried and standing at the podium to deliver the Gettysburg Address.
Kids will have so much fun, they won’t realize how much they’re learning.
What Does It Cost?
- Currently free for children 12 and under with a paying adult.
- Adults 13 and up: $7.50
- Seniors/Veterans/Active Military: $6.50
Civil War Tails Diorama Museum at the Gettysburg Homestead
Location: 785 Baltimore St., Gettysburg, PA
There are lots of museums in Gettysburg and around the world, but there is only one that features historically accurate Civil War battle dioramas with soldiers that are… well, cats.
Civil War Tails is located in the former Gettysburg National Homestead, a house that was used for widows and orphans of the Civil War in the 1800s.
Opened in September 2015, the concept of cat Civil War diorama might sound a bit strange, but the “cat soldiers” are painstakingly handcrafted and the owners, twin sisters Ruth and Rebecca Brown, pay meticulous attention to accuracy in the scenes they create.
The Brown sisters even go as far as to research where certain historical figures were located during a particular battle.
To add to the unusual experience, the Civil War Tails museum is located on the edge of the battlefield in Gettysburg.
It’s hard to say who likes this museum in Gettysburg more—the cat people who visit for the feline theme, or the Civil War buffs who come for the history.
But one thing’s for sure. It’s a place you have to see to believe.
Metered street parking as well as a large parking lot across the street.
What Does It Cost?
- Adults: $6.50
- Military (active and veteran), Police, Fire, EMT: $5.50
- Children ages 6-12: $5.00
- Children 5 and under: FREE
- Group rates of 10 or more available
WWII American Experience Museum In Gettysburg
Location: 845 Crooked Creek Road, Gettysburg PA
The latest addition to the lineup of Gettysburg museums is the American Experience World War II Museum that opened in June of 2022.
Unlike some other museums in Gettysburg, this one creates a space that allows visitors to see, feel, touch and experience World War II and understand its impact on the Homefront.
Started by Gettysburg residents Frank and Loni Buck as a way to display Frank’s massive collection of World War II vehicles, the museum’s mission has expanded to educate the public about the many varied facets of American contributions to the war effort.
In addition to Sherman tanks, wheeled vehicles, small arms, uniforms and other items of material culture, the WWII American Experience museum also showcases the contributions of civilians who did their part to support the soldiers on the battlefield.
This Gettysburg museum offers interactive displays, simulated and real vehicle experiences, living history programs and live demonstrations.
A unique and important features of this museum is that it strives to tell the story of World War II through the eyes, experiences and memories of the people of Gettysburg, Adams County and the surrounding region through artifacts and recorded video interviews playing throughout the museum.
This World War II museum has special events almost every week, so check out their website for details.
Plentiful on-site parking.
What Does It Cost?
- General Admission $14
- Seniors and Veterans $11
- Children under 5 FREE
- Children 6-12 $8
- Group rates available.
Other Museums In Gettysburg And The Surrounding Area
Seminary Ridge Museum: 111 Seminary Ridge, Gettysburg, PA (717-339-1300)
Seminary Ridge Museum has three floors of exhibits and is located in the historic Gettysburg Lutheran Seminary building that was prominently featured in the movie Gettysburg.
Gary Casteel Sculptures: 789 Baltimore St, Gettysburg, PA (717-387-0461)
You will see hundreds of monuments during your visit to Gettysburg and may wonder about the process of creating them. You are welcome to visit the gallery and studio of famous artist Gary Casteel to see how he creates his amazing monuments and paintings.
General Lee’s Headquarters Museum: 401 Buford Avenue, Gettysburg, PA
The grounds and an interpretive trail are open for free. House is open for special events.
George Lomas Center and Museum: 50 Mayor Alley, Gettysburg, PA
Hours by appointment except open most Saturdays. You can see Old Number One, a 3-inch Ordnance rifle that was the first of its kind and was used during the Battle of Gettysburg.
Eisenhower National Historic Site: 97 Taneytown Road, Gettysburg, PA 17325 (717-338-9114)
The Eisenhower Historic Site preserves the farm of General and 34th President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The farm served as his weekend retreat, a meeting place for world leaders, and later, his home. Free tours Monday through Thursday
A shuttle bus runs from the Visitors Center for a cost of $9 for adults and $5 for children.
Ronn Palms Museum of Civil War Images: 229 Baltimore Street, Gettysburg, (724-664-5150)
Ronn Palm’s Museum is filled with thousands upon thousands of images. He has a catalog online if you are looking for something in particular, or you may just visit the museum. Open most weekends throughout the year.
The David Wills House 8 Lincoln Square Gettysburg, PA
Cost of admission: Free
This Gettysburg museum was the home of attorney David Wills, where President Lincoln put the finishing touches on his Gettysburg Address. The museum features six galleries, including two rooms that have been restored to their 1863 appearance.
National Apple Museum: Located 6 miles north of Gettysburg at 154 W. Hanover St., Biglerville PA. Open Saturdays and by appointment. (717-677-4556). Cost of Admission: Free. Donations appreciated.
The museum is housed in a restored pre-Civil War bank barn and is dedicated to preserving and exhibiting the history and artifacts that pertain to the Apple and Tree Fruit Industry’s history in the county.
Eastern Museum of Motor Racing: 100 Baltimore Road, York Springs, PA (717-528-8279)
Cost of admission: Free Donations appreciated.
What’s The Best Time To Visit Museums In Gettysburg?
Most of the museums in Gettysburg are open all year, but hours may be limited during the winter months.
Visiting in the early spring or late fall means smaller crowds, but the weather can be unpredictable.
The best time to visit Gettysburg, really depends on what you want to see and how long you have to visit.
Don’t forget to visit downtown Gettysburg, during your stay because there are a lot of great restaurants and shops.
You can also find a lot of historic sites that are hidden in plain sight throughout Gettysburg. And if you’re on a budget, there even free things to do in Gettysburg.