I grew up thirty minutes outside of Washington, DC. I was spoiled with access to the Smithsonian – the world’s largest museum, education, and research complex, consisting of 19 museums and galleries, the National Zoological Park, and nine research facilities. I never wanted for culture, entertainment, or history.
When I moved to Phoenixville, PA, I realized what I had taken for granted. Philadelphia is harder to get to, the museums are scattered rather than in one central location, and the cost of spending a day at the Franklin Institute can cost upwards of $50 per adult.
I have since learned that there is no need to venture into the city for a look back in time. One can simply drive to Oaks, PA.
Yesterday, my wife and I had the pleasure of visiting the American Treasure Tour, located next to The Dump in the 422 Business Complex and housed in a former B.F. Goodrich tire factory. I expected a large museum filled with Americana, but what I got was a 100,000 square foot Americana experience.
After checking in with our tour guide, our journey began in the music room where we were entertained by hundreds of mechanical music machines, such as nickelodeons, band organs and music boxes. The music room also featured miniature displays, a dozen doll houses, and a wall of iconic records.
We then made our way into the larger-than-life warehouse for a 50-minute guided tram tour of American treasures. Quirky items included a castle made entirely of 396,000 popsicle sticks as well as a giant 15-foot women’s high-heeled shoe.
We waved hello to the Simpson family sitting on a bench, were entertained by two animated baby goats having a pillow fight, and watched as elves from Santa’s workshop prepared for the holiday season.
The museum was filled with animatronics, each operated by the touch of an iPad.
After a Wurlitzer concert and a spin past two dozen classically preserved automobiles, we ended our tour where we began.
Since it’s opening in 2011, the American Treasure Tour is one of southeastern Pennsylvania’s most unique attractions and has since extended its hours due to popular demand, offering walk-in tours on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the hour.
The museum also offers reserved group tours with a minimum of 15 people, or custom tours for two to 14, as well as to student and scout groups.
The general admission cost of the tour ranges from $21.95 for adults to $9.95 for kids aged three to 12. Group and custom tour prices vary and are available on the American Treasure Tour website.
Dining options for group tours include a hot buffet or a soup and sandwich board. Smaller groups are invited to relax at Arnold’s Bistro, located in the same complex.
The exhibit, curated by an anonymous private collector, is operated by Valley Forge Promotions, the same group who manages the new “Area 2200″ – a first-scenario, realistic tactical laser experience in a 6,000 square-foot facility.
To learn more about the American Treasure Tour, click here.
To learn more about “Area 2200,” click here.