There's nothing like learning about medicine of the past to make us grateful for today's doctors. The Glore Psychiatric Museum illustrates how far health care has come by taking guests on a fascinating—and sometimes gruesome—journey into State Lunatic Asylum No. 2, which opened in 1874. Through interactive exhibits and artifacts, the museum, which as been featured on PBS and the Discovery Channel, shows what daily life at the hospital was like over the course of its history. In addition to hospital paraphernalia such as confinement boxes and uniforms, the Glore showcases artwork created by those suffering from mental-health disorders, and includes pottery, paintings, drawings, and needlework.
In 1986, aviation enthusiasts Dick McMahon and Larry Brown embarked on a mutually shared dream: find and restore a Lockheed Super G Constellation. Long gone from the friendly skies, the “Connie,” as the aircraft is known to aficionados and flirtatious air traffic controllers, was once a sight to behold––a beautiful mix of mechanical power and graceful design. After much sleuthing, the pair managed to locate a 1958 model in Mesa, Arizona, acquire it from the storage facility in which it lived, and transporting it to Hangar 9 at the Kansas City Downtown Airport for refurbishment.
Thus was established the National Airline History Museum, a passion project that grew over the ensuing decades to fill three museum rooms with airline artifacts and ephemera. Inside, visitors mine the rich history of commercial flight as they view early photographs and exchange the latest jokes about airline food. They even have the opportunity to walk through several of the aircraft in the hangar, including a 1941 Douglas DC-3 and a 1952 Martin 404 in addition to the famed Lockheed Constellation.
Inside the lobby of KU Natural History Museum, unsuspecting guests mill underneath a 45-foot-long mosasaur, seemingly oblivious to the marine creature’s razor-sharp teeth and whip-like spine. But the fossilized cretaceous-period animal remains harmless as visitors ogle it and many others housed in the museum’s 50,000-square-foot space. They run their fingers through the grooves in femurs dating back 150 million years, then time travel to the modern day in the panorama of North American animals, a sprawling display of animals frozen in realistic tableaus that often include fast food franchises in the background. Guests can also soak up insect energy in Bugtown, an area filled with human-size worm tunnels and a live bee colony.
The purveyors of literary pleasure at Signs of Life enable learning and leisure through an expansive collection of printed-word wares, delectable café snacks, and local art pieces. Dabble in fiction with Fyodor Dostoevsky's classic novel, Crime and Punishment ($5.99), or acclimate yourself with American history by reading David McCullough's 1776, a riveting account of how George Washington led almost 2,000 men into battle to defeat the Duke Blue Devils on a last-second three-pointer by Paul Revere ($14.99, paperback). Ecclesiastically curious guests can peruse one of many theologic selections, such as Augustine for Armchair Theologians by Stephen Cooper ($13.99), while sipping a tasty bean-based beverage at Signs of Life’s convivial café. For even more aesthetic enjoyment, art-magnets can scurry over to Signs of Life’s adjoining art gallery, featuring the work of more than a dozen local and national artists in a charming space.
Wonderscope’s interactive exhibits aim to instill a lifelong fascination with learning in kids aged 10 and younger through hands-on play that mixes education with fun. Elements of art, science, and literature are on display throughout as kids explore themed environments such as TinkerSpace, an otherworldly sanctuary for building structures and contraptions. Raceways explores elements of physics, such as motion and combing your hair like Einstein, whereas H2Oh! moisturizes young minds with interactive lessons on the properties of water. At Wonderscope's newest exhibit, _Ready Vet Go!, children can step into the roles of veterinarian, trainer, and pet owner as they learn the importance of animal ownership and care. Over at the Baby Nursery, kids can assume the role of doctor and learn how to take care of a newborn child.
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