5798 County Road 77
Berlin Ohio 44610United States
This museum celebrates Amish and Mennonite culture -- maybe a little too much for skeptics.
Located on well-traveled County-77, the Amish and Mennonite Heritage Center provides a history lesson (albeit graphic, describing the beheading and murders of church founders) for those wanting to understand Amish culture. The museum is constructed around the Behalt (which means "to keep or remember"), a 265-foot cyclorama that tells the story of the Amish and Mennonites. The circular mural features larger-than-life depictions of key moments in this culture's history. Lead by a Mennonite guide, the tour takes about 30 minutes. The images are fairly graphic, and the refrain to the question, "Guess what happened to him?" almost becomes a joke of, "He had his head cut off." All because we wanted to be Amish! Isn't it awful? We have a bit of a hard time with this because people of many faiths -- and people who choose not to practice religion at all -- have been persecuted throughout time. Not that it makes it right. The presentation of this just had a "poor us" tone that we found unappealing, even dating to the Vietnam War when an Amish man went to Vietnam to provide spiritual support to the troops (the Amish are ardently antiwar). He and his girlfriend disappeared, and the tour ends on this somber, "Isn't it awful?" tone. Well, yes, of course. But more than 58,000 Americans and 1.5 million Vietnamese also died during that conflict, and there is no mention of or acknowledgment of that reality, which to us further illustrates the insulation the Amish have regarding their community. Admission charged to the Behalt tour.