5 totally cool and unusual Maryland museums

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National Capital Radio and Television Museum

A different kind of code breaking takes place at the National Capital Radio and Television Museum in Bowie. Kids can take advantage of the on-site educational program, which includes listening to a segment of the "Little Orphan Annie" radio program. With the "Secret Decoder Badge" provided by the museum, young visitors can crack the code at the end of the radio program, just like millions of American children did more than 80 years ago.

Listen to the dance bands of the 1920s on an authentic 1922 crystal radio or watch a vintage television show from the 1950s on the many restored television sets. Kids can also learn a little something, like the fact that their cellphones are nothing more than advanced transistor radios. That's what Brian Belanger, executive director of the museum, informed a group of young visitors on a recent visit.

"Families will gain an appreciation of how technology has evolved over the past 100 years," Belanger says. "We would not have all this wonderful technology if not for what has come before it."

Geppi's Entertainment Museum

Before television, or even radio, kids found amusement in comic books, and many originals can be seen at Geppi's Entertainment Museum at Camden Station in Baltimore.

The museum is a destination for visitors of all ages, housing entertainment memorabilia from the past 200 years, such as the display of Felix the Cat from the 1800s and an exhibit dedicated to the earliest incarnations of Mickey Mouse. Kids can view the comic in which Batman first appears, as well as see an original Action Comics No. 1, which introduced the world to Superman.

The museum is rife with interactive features such as a digital kiosk, where visitors can read the original comics, and a treasure hunt where kids can hunt for clues in each exhibit throughout the museum.

"Geppi's is a great place for families to have fun, but a visit can also create a dialogue among generations," says Associate Curator Andy Hershberger. "The recognition of so many iconic figures inevitably causes visitors of all ages to say, 'Wow, I had that as a kid!'"

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