Exploring Exhibits

Featured Exhibit

featured exhibit

George & Cathy Goolsby Clock Donation

Ives is one of America’s most celebrated clockmakers, and he is well known for his innovative construction features. Among these are roller pinions intended to reduce friction in the trains of his clocks, lever or wagon springs used to provide motive power, and his tin plate movements that he claimed needed no lubrication. The Goolsby collection is noteworthy for its breadth and scope.

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View Past Featured Exhibits

With more than 20 galleries to explore, the National Watch & Clock Museum features timekeepers from all over the world spanning centuries. From sundials to atomic clocks, the Museum has it all.

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The 18th-Century Gallery

The 18th-Century Gallery features tall, or grandfather, clocks from the United States and Europe. Although the mechanical technology is similar in both types, European clocks far surpassed American clocks during this period in artistry, dial design, and cabinetry.

18th century clock display

The 19th-Century Gallery

Children can have fun designing tall clocks and clock faces in this and the 19th Century Galleries while adults try to decipher how to tell time on the Franklin Clock, an unusual timepiece invented by Benjamin Franklin in the 1700s.

19th century wall clocks

Early American Watchmaking Gallery

Pocket watches enabled people to tell time wherever they went, and the Early American Watchmaking Gallery features an extensive collection, including from the Lancaster, PA, Hamilton Watch Company. The gallery also includes factory machinery from that period that still works.

early american clock making display

The Asian Horology Gallery

The Asian Horology Gallery features clocks from China and Japan, including lantern, incense, and the rather mystifying Shaku-Dokei clocks. Shaku-Dokei clocks display time differently according to season.

The Jeweler’s Shop Gallery

The Jeweler’s Shop Gallery authentically replicates a jewelry store from the early 1900s, giving visitors the sense they’ve stepped back in time.  

a jewelry store from the early 1900s

The Current Time Gallery

The Current Time Gallery features electric clocks from the mid-1800s through modern times. In the Tower Clock Gallery, visitors can see the inner workings of a tower clock. Children will enjoy exploring hands-on activities in the Dr. Fred & Isabel Beeker Learning Center.

wall clocks display

Novelty Timepieces Gallery

Those interested in the unusual will enjoy both The Interest of Time and The Roger and Alice Dankert Novelty Timepieces Galleries, featuring advertising and novelty clocks, respectively.

Bugs Bunny novelty clock

Escapement Exhibit

The Museum’s interactive Escapement Exhibit nicely illustrates how clock gears work to keep time. A clock’s escapement causes the tick and tock. 

display of escapements at learning center

The European Clock Gallery

Europe was the leader in designing clocks that were also works of art. The European Clock Production Gallery features impressive examples from different periods. The largest on display is a conical pendulum clock from France designed by Eugène Farcot in the late 1800s.  

european clock display

The Time on the Road Gallery

The Time on the Road Gallery features clocks from car dashboards and steering wheels as well as from various aircraft. 

clocks used in transportation

The Robert Wolf Marine Chronometer Gallery

Finding longitude at sea was nearly possible until the mid-1700s when John Harrison invented the marine chronometer – the first to keep accurate time at sea. The Robert Wolf Marine Chronometer Gallery features chronometers through history, including a few the Hamilton Watch Company mass-produced during WWII.

cronometers in wooden cases

The Hamilton Watch Gallery

The famous Hamilton Watch Company, now a part of the Swatch Group, began in Lancaster County. The Museum features a large display of Hamilton pocket watches, wristwatches, chronometers, desk clocks, and even the first-ever electric watch. The Museum is also proud to house the Hamilton archives.

Hamilton watch center diagram

The Wristwatch Gallery

The Wristwatch Gallery features watch styles from the late 1800s until the present day, including several models worn in various James Bond movies as well as more novelty and children’s watches. The exhibit also features the first smartwatch.

display of wristwatches in an arch shape

The Member Contribution Gallery

The Member Contribution Gallery, as its name suggests, is where museum members can place special items from their personal collections for museum visitors to enjoy. This gallery’s exhibit changes frequently, so no two visits may be the same. One thing is for sure, this gallery will feature the most uncommon pieces, such as a wooden sculpture clock constructed in 1994.

gallery of member donated clocks