With three nearby RV parks, central proximity to both Oklahoma City and Tulsa, and multiple highly rated museums, Shawnee is the perfect destination for the RV’ing family looking for something both a little different and a little familiar! Being a town small in size but big on personality, Shawnee’s Main Street is home to classic restaurants and specialty stores; you can find information about all of that and more in our visitor guide. In this article, however, we’re going to take a look at a few of our most popular attractions: our museums. Shawnee’s three museums all offer something different to the wayward explorer fascinated by culture. Here are just some of the highlights to visit in Shawnee:
Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art
For a city so steeped in Western and Native cultures, Shawnee is fortunate to have an art museum with a collection that wouldn’t be out of place in the world’s most urbane metros. The Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art began as a Benedictine monk’s private collection. Father Gerrer traveled far and wide, collecting art and cultural artifacts to share with his community. That collection has grown over the years to include pieces from the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia. Today, it features the only Ancient Egyptian mummies in Oklahoma.
Pottawatomie County Museum
For those interested in the cultural history of Shawnee and its surrounding county, the Pottawatomie County Museum is a must-visit. Built in 1904, the building operated as a train depot until the 1970s; its unique architecture has been likened to old European cathedrals and castles! Today, it houses an eclectic collection of artifacts and information about Pottawatomie County. Items on display include a stuffed Alaskan bear, player piano, antique phones, railroad memorabilia, several model train sets and a scale model of downtown Shawnee.
CPN Cultural Heritage Center
Of course, Shawnee’s history is incomplete without taking into consideration the three Native American tribes who have occupied the area since Oklahoma was known as Indian Territory. You can take a deep dive into one of those stories at the Citizen Potawatomi Nation (CPN) Cultural Heritage Center! Recently renovated, the museum tells the story of a Great Lakes tribe that was forced to relocate and adapt to life on the Great Plains, all through thoughtful displays and interactive exhibits. Plus, the museum’s gift shop features traditional, hand-made Native American attire, jewelry and more.
Home to over a dozen bald eagles and several other bird species, the Citizen Potawatomi Nation’s Eagle Aviary provides a permanent home for eagles that have sustained injuries serious enough that they cannot live in the wild.