Under the auspices of the Kansas Historical Society, the Kansas Museum of History, winner of the American Association for State and Local History award, enlightens guests with a culturally rich reservoir of exhibitions showcasing the Wheat State's triumphs and tribulations. Revel in Kansas's 150th year of statehood with a peek at the motif-centered "150 Things I Love About Kansas", which pulls Kansan allegories and clichés from The Wizard of Oz to national breadbasket status out of context for examination as a whole. Ongoing exhibits highlight the Native American influence with a Cheyenne tepee, the hardship of westward movement through a covered wagon, and the wonder of 21st-century science with a cryogenically frozen Jayhawks mascot. Young children hop back in time at the fully interactive Discovery Place, primed with frontier dress-up ensembles and a locomotive ready to be commandeered.
• Friday, July 8 at 7:30 p.m. • Saturday, July 9 at 7:30 p.m. • Sunday, July 10 at 2 p.m. • Friday, July 15 at 7:30 p.m. • Saturday, July 16 at 7:30 p.m. • Sunday, July 17 at 2 p.m. • Friday, July 22 at 7:30 p.m. • Saturday, July 23 at 7:30 p.m. • Sunday, July 24 at 2 p.m.
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.
At Kansas Learning Center for Health, kids don't learn about human anatomy from any regular skeleton. Instead, they learn from a more accurate model: Valeda. Shaped like the average woman, who is 5'7" and 145 pounds, Valeda has plastic bones and organs, wiring to represent her lymphatic and circulatory systems, and transparent skin. She even has a voice, which she uses to explain the benefits of a healthy lifestyle; her organs light up whenever she mentions them.
Valeda is just one of the engaging, interactive exhibits at the Kansas Learning Center for Health that helps kids understand their bodies. Others include huge model eyes, ears, and mouths, which kids can explore on visits with their families and schools, or through the center's eclectic classes. Class topics run the gamut from dealing with puberty to dental hygiene to the detrimental effects of drug use.
The Museum of World Treasures lets adults ($9 value), seniors ($8 value), and kids 4–12 ($7 value) brush up on their history with three floors of exciting exhibits and artifacts. After striding into the museum’s brick-faced edifice, stay-at-home time travelers are whisked to the first floor, where they can Lindy-Hop through the Ancient Civilizations gallery, bring Egyptian mummies back to life both figuratively and literally, touch a 4.5-ton piece of the Berlin Wall, and take turns riding a 40-foot-long T. rex skeleton named Ivan. On the second floor, explore the President’s Gallery—which displays interesting items such as a lock of George Washington’s hair and the signatures of the first 43 American presidents—as well as jewelry, swords, beer koozies, and signatures from European royalty dating back to the 12th century. The third floor plays host to a swarm of sports artifacts and pop culture treasures such as the pearls Lucy wore to greet Ricky at the door in an episode of I Love Lucy, and the pitchfork used by the Scarecrow to kill Frankenstein in The Wizard of Oz. The American Frontier exhibit, meanwhile, includes a 34-star flag that was accidentally produced when the fledgling country was still composed of 63 states.
Botanica's 9.5-acre plant paradise is divided into more than 20 meticulously designed gardens, including a rose garden for contemplating roses and a wildflower meadow for frolicking in wildflowers. More than 3,600 species of plants are artfully arranged around calming streams, flowing waterfalls, and sculptures. Stop by the sensory garden to touch, smell, and telepathically understand plants' thoughts about hot dogs. A retreat to an urban garden can help soothe one’s sensibilities and wash away haunting memories of cubical confinement. Consult Botanica's bloom schedule to plan a trip to view your favored flora.