Best Place to Learn About the Amish
As one of the most popular tourist attractions in the state, many people flock to Ohio’s Amish country to experience the novelty of a simpler pastoral lifestyle. Visitors arrive with many questions about Amish, Mennonite and Hutterite traditions, and they can all be answered during a visit to The Amish & Mennonite Heritage Center in Millersburg, Ohio. The center is an educational experience dedicated to preserving and teaching visitors about the history of Anabaptist people.
Perhaps the most stunning aspect of the center is “Behalt,” the 10ft. by 265 ft. circular mural (or cyclorama) that depicts a colorfully illustrated history of Anabaptist cultures. Painted by artist Heinz Gaugel, the mural took 14 years to complete and depicts more than 1,200 historic figures. The cyclorama is just one of four others in the world. Visitors can take a guided tour of “Behalt” during their visit and get an Anabaptist history lesson in disguise.
The center isn’t just an attraction for domestic tourists — visitors have come from more than 120 nations to learn about Anabaptist culture. After touring the mural, visitors are free to wander through the gift shop, where Amish-made gifts and other literature about the culture is available. Exhibits in the museum just beyond the gift shop answer some of the most commonly asked questions about the Amish and Mennonite way of life. It features Amish apparel as well as a collection of books and local artifacts.
The newest addition to the center is a library dedicated to preserving a collection of Amish and Mennonite books and documents. The library contains genealogy information, church newsletters, hymnals, bibles, and more. One of the most impressive items that can be seen in the library is an historic 1531 Froschauer Bible, based on Luther’s translation, and in very good condition.
Once visitors have explored the inside of the center, more treasures await outside. The center maintains a historic one-room schoolhouse and pioneer barn on the premises. The schoolhouse was in operation between 1857 and 1951 and is currently set up as it would have been when it was in use, with desks, chairs, and even a bell. The barn was built to showcase a traditional Amish barn-raising and inside, it details what a barn-raising event would be like. Also inside the barn are a wagon and two vintage buggies. The wagon is a historic Conestoga wagon that was used to transport Amish settlers from Pennsylvania to Holmes County.