On the eleventh day of Steampunk Christmas,
My true love gave to me:
Eleven Steampunk Places to Visit.
Gifts don’t have to be something physical; they can be an experience. Here are eleven (out of many) places to visit that have a steampunk vibe to them.
This museum has the world’s largest collection on aviation and concentrates on lighter-than-air craft. In addition to historic artifacts from the age of the airship, it has a full-size walk-in model of a section of the Hindenberg built and furnished from the original plans.
This is a two-fer. Located adjacent to each other, the Henry Ford Museum concentrates on historic technology, machines, and vehicles and how they related to the culture of the day. Greenfield Village consists of over 100 historic buildings (like the Wright Brothers’ bicycle shop, and one of Thomas Edison’s laboratory buildings) that were brought to Dearborn by Henry Ford. The museums are a testament to what you can accomplish with a love of history and an effectively infinite amount of money.
Located, appropriately enough, next to the Amtrak station in Old Sacramento, this museum has restored rail cars and exhibits about how railroads shaped the culture of California and the West. It’s especially fun to visit on Gold Rush Days (the first weekend in September), when the streets of Old Sacramento are transformed into the mid 1800s.
This museum is housed in a brick textile mill built in 1814 on the banks of Charles River outside Boston. Exhibits on the industrial past of the area include watchmaking and bicycle building. A regional steampunk event has taken place at the museum in the past.
Conceived as a temporary structure for the 1889 Paris Exposition, Gustav Eiffel built the tower which was the tallest structure of its day. The Jules Verne restaurant is located on the second level.
This museum is housed in the 1838 Kew Bridge Pumping Station built to draw drinking water from the Thames (yuck!). The stars of the museum are its working steam engines. It also has a steam-powered narrow gauge railroad. And Kew Gardens is located right across the Thames.
Besides defining the boundary between East and West at the Prime Meridian, Greenwich displays its collection of the Harrison clocks used to determine longitude aboard ships, historical astronomical instruments, and the clipper ship Cutty Sark. Until Jan 5, 2015, it’s also showing a steampunk exhibit called Longitude Punk’d.
While there are now several Maker Faires every year in different locations, the first was the Bay Area Maker Faire in 2006. Maker Faire is a celebration of all kinds of DIY from electronics and robotics to extreme knitting and cheese making. Maker Faire has always had a strong steampunk presence, such as the Neverwas Haul crew and the League of Steam.
Located at 221B Baker St., this museum is a shrine to Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous detective. My son, a huge fan, thought it a little touristy, but enjoyed it. The Museum of London is also having a Sherlock Holmes exhibit until April 2015, and is also next door to St. Barts Hospital where Sherlock jumped to his “death”.
If you love trains, then this is the museum for you. The National Railway Museum has many historic locomotives and carriages as well as other artifacts from throughout the history of rail.