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Touring the Tuscarora Academy Museum in Juniata County, PA

A few years ago, when I first visited the Academia-Pomeroy Covered Bridge in Juniata County, the longest existing covered bridge in PA, I made note of the Tuscarora Academy Museum that was located nearby. And, while it took me a few years to get back to the area, I was excited when I finally had a chance to visit this great museum.

The Tuscarora Academy Museum is located within a two-story stone building that was originally constructed as a Presbyterian church in 1816. However, starting in 1836, the building was also used as a school.

Items on display inside the Tuscarora Academy Museum in Juniata County PA
The Tuscarora Academy Museum tells the story of Juniata County.

In 1850, the Tuscarora Academy purchased the building from the church and converted it full-time into a school building, including adding a second story for student dorms. It would serve as a central part of the academy until 1912, after which it was used as the local high school until 1916.

The Tuscarora Academy was a very successful school, and, in spite of its very rural location, it attracted students from 30 states and six countries. Its success was the reason the area here was named Academia.

The exterior of the Tuscarora Academy Museum in Juniata County Pennsylvania
The exterior of the Tuscarora Academy Museum.

While there were other buildings built as part of the academy, this two-story stone structure is the only one left after a series of fires and a lack of maintenance over the years. Today, it serves as a fascinating museum focusing on the history of Juniata County, PA.

While many overlook local historical society museums, I always enjoy visiting them as they offer me great information about the history of PA, and the Tuscarora Academy Museum is no exception.

This museum features two floors of displays related to one of the most overlooked areas of the state and really helped me to appreciate its rich history and the people that made their lives here.

Couches and other items on display at the Tuscarora Academy Museum in Academia PA
Some of the items on display on the first floor of the museum.

The first floor of the museum is primarily one large room and features some of the museum’s larger pieces including items saved from local general stores, post offices, and even from other buildings within the Tuscarora Academy.

This floor doesn’t have a whole lot of thematic flow as it seems that items are kind of just put where they fit to a large extent. However, the signage here is really good, so I didn’t find this to be a negative thing. Just different from many of the other historical society museums I’ve visited around the state.

I especially enjoyed the collection of Native American artifacts on display here and the information on the Book Indian Burial Mound, one of the most unique historic spots in PA.

Native American items in a display case at the Tuscarora Academy Museum in Juniata County Pennsylvania
Native American items on display at the museum.

Upstairs, there are many smaller rooms, which do lend themselves nicely to themes for the spaces. These cover topics like local military history, local medicine, and school life, just to name a few.

Several of the rooms have also been set up to resemble what a student’s room would have looked like during the days when this space housed students of the Tuscarora Academy. It was definitely interesting to see how these young scholars lived while studying here.

Tattooed human skin in a picture frame sitting on an old wheelchair at the Tuscarora Academy Museum in PA
Medical items on display in the museum, including a piece of tattooed human skin.

Probably the most interesting item to me on the display in the entire museum was a large piece of human skin in a picture frame. The skin was covered in a tattoo and was removed at some point from a recently deceased body.

Definitely a unique specimen for sure.

Replica dorm room inside the Tuscarora Academy Museum in Juniata County PA
Several of the upstairs rooms have been set up to show what life was like at the school.

Overall, I really enjoyed my tour of the Tuscarora Academy Museum. If you have a connection to Juniata County or simply love learning unique local history, this is definitely a fantastic museum that you won’t want to miss.

Just as I did, you are sure to find a few fascinating pieces here that you’ll really enjoy seeing.

Looking for more things to do nearby? Check out the best things to do in Mifflin County, the covered bridges of Perry County, and Little Buffalo State Park.

Tuscarora Academy Museum

Hours: Sundays: 1:30-4 pm
Open from June-September


Website: JuniataHistoricalSociety.org

Address: 472 Academia Rd
Mifflin, PA 17058


See map for other area attractions.

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