Clock tower, NAWCC Museum
Clock tower, NAWCC Museum

We were making our way to Missouri after beginning our journey in Maine in early May (2017). We only had one very important stop along the way because for the past 5 years I have always wanted to see the NAWCC clock museum in Columbia, Pennsylvania. Ever since I seriously wrapped my head around clock collecting and repair my dream was to visit this museum. Getting there was no problem but Interstate traffic is truly a disaster! Unfortunately, we budgeted too little time for a thorough tour in the hour and a half we had but we saw as much as we could in that short time.

Waiting in a hot parking lot for the museum to open was not much fun. Couldn’t you just open the front doors a little earlier than 10:00am? To kill time we walked around the town of Columbia. It might be neat and tidy place and one of the “top twenty small towns to visit in America”, so the sign says, but like all small towns in America the decline is evident in the number of vacant storefronts and absence of activity in the streets.

A sign in Columbia Penn.
Sign in Columbia Penn.

We finally got into the museum. We (my wife and I) were the first in and being a NAWCC member my wife and I got in free. During our time there we saw only one other couple. So, not a terribly busy time but there are likely peak periods in the summer.

I was wondering how I would describe my visit to the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors Museum in Columbia Pennsylvania on that day in May. It was wonderful and more than I had imagined. There is simply not enough time to see everything and take it all in. The museum is very well laid out and there are displays to please everyone.

Vienna Regulator with Grande Sonnerie movement
Vienna Regulator with Grande Sonnerie movement

For me the highlight has to be Engels Monument Clock (see Youtube video below). There was only ourselves and one other couple at the time so we were happy that the staff were able to put on a real show for us. The staffer walked us through the history of the clock and followed with a fascinating demonstration. AS he did so I imagined what it must have like to attend a local fair and see this wonderful clock in action. The clock was exhibited around the country for 74 years and last displayed in 1951 at the Ohio State Fall.

There is an emphasis on American clocks as you would expect but there are excellent examples of French, German, English and Japanese clocks. There is a broad selection of tall case clocks all the way back to the 1700s  The history of time was very interesting as are the interactive displays which I am sure would please any children visiting the museum.

In a later article I will post more photos.

Whether you are an avid collector or merely have a casual interest in clocks this is great place to visit.