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.
Learn more about the history of the Kansas City metropolitan area at this museum overlooking the Missouri River Valley. Sitting on the former estate of lumber baron and philanthropist Robert A. Long, the Kansas City Museum’s displays are located in five historic structures, the most notable being a magnificent 70-room mansion.
The Hallmark Visitors Center gives visitors young and old the opportunity to learn more about how the iconic greeting cards are made. The Hallmark Live exhibit features talks from some of the company’s writers, illustrators and designers, and kids can even operate a bow-making machine and take home their creation as a souvenir.
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.