When writer Richard Faulk set out to catalog the nation's oddest corners for his book Gross America, Leila's Hair Museum was an obvious choice. There, Leila Cohoon preserves and furthers the off-kilter artform of hair-based crafts, which stretches back to the 1700s and beyond. In a piece for CNN.com, Faulk notes that, in pre-photography days, Victorian artisans would "[weave] jewelry and decorative lace out of human hair" as a means of remembering departed loved ones, with "successive generations [sometimes adding] to the lacework to create a genealogical record, much like a family bible". In addition to these personal mementoes, Leila's collection includes 400 hair-based wreaths dating before 1900, and numerous reliquaries said to contain the hair of Mary, mother of Jesus, St. Anne, grandmother of Jesus, and pieces of the cross. Hair pieces belonging to Michael Jackson, Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, Lincoln, and other presidents also reside here. Although not hair-related, the museum also features a brooch that is said to contain threads from the coat of Joseph, father of Jesus. The quirky outpost has attracted the attention of racontours other than Faulk, too--noted gadabout Anthony Bourdain also paid a visit during an episode of his show No Reservations.
Known for its history as a pioneer town and home to former president Harry S. Truman, Independence welcomes visitors to its storied sites, making them more accessible with free trolley rides. Tour the 1859 Jail and Marshal's Home and Museum to glimpse a dwelling for law breakers next to a dwelling for a law keeper, and the clandestine tryst between the abodes that resulted in a museum. The Bingham-Waggoner Estate preserves many of the original art and furnishings of the famed Bingham and Waggoner families, while the National Frontier Trails Museum hails the starting point of the westbound pioneers with bronzed pieces of nuts, raisins, and chocolate bits tracing a path westward.
The late-October sun shining down on the stadium illuminates the 76,000 or so fans around you—fans who only pause their whooping, screaming, clapping, and whistling to yell for the Chiefs as another football game begins.
Arrowhead Stadium might initially impress visitors with its upgraded sound and scoreboard systems, expanded concourses, 360-degree video-ribbon board, and upgraded snack choices. But what keeps them coming back to the place is the camaraderie they feel watching their favorite football team catch a touchdown pass or stop an opponent short of the goal line.
The Hunt family recognizes this spirit, which is why when the time came to make decisions about the future of Arrowhead several years ago, they knew that, unlike other teams, who were tearing down and completely rebuilding their venues to better fit the modern world, they needed to preserve their iconic stadium. So with the help of Jackson County's loyal citizens, they raised $375 million and added such features as the Founder's Plaza, the luxurious Scout Investments Club Level, the Chiefs Hall of Honor presented by Time Warner Cable, and a new team store.
In July 1957, former President Harry S. Truman took his first walk to the newly opened Harry S. Truman Library & Museum and took a seat in his private office. Here he wrote his memoirs; welcomed celebrities, statesmen and presidential hopefuls; trained the first museum docents; greeted schoolchildren; and recorded a welcome message for the Oval Office exhibit that continues to greet visitors. Visitors to the historic archives can see this private space and step into a nearly exact replica of the Oval Office—the construction of which Truman oversaw—as well as the original The Buck Stops Here sign.
Throughout the museum, exhibits feature some of the archives' 30,000 photographs, letters, political memorabilia, and Truman-family possessions. In the first room of The Presidential Years, visitors watch a short film on the president's early life and senatorial career. They then pass through rooms filled with artifacts and multimedia displays focused on global issues that Truman faced: the end of WWII, the formation of NATO, and the beginnings of the Cold War. Inside two interactive auditoriums, audiences step into the president's role and vote on many of the issues he faced, such as the 1948 election, Cold War spies, and whether to throw his next birthday party on an aircraft carrier. In Harry S. Truman: His Life and Times, children explore Truman's pre-presidential years and courtship with his wife through electronic driving games, historical quizzes, and a craft table where they can make their own campaign buttons. They can also inspect artifacts such as a WWI cannon and the president's 1940s car.
The exhibits also touch on and buttress the greater American story. Over the museum’s entryway sprawls Independence and the Opening of the West, a 495-square-foot town-history mural created by Missouri native Thomas Hart Benton. Members are invited to annual events such as the Presidential Wreath Laying Ceremony, Veterans Day Celebration, Members Night at the Museum, Bess's Tea and more. And members are always admitted free to monthly Talkin' Truman programs with the museum's curators and archivists.
When he was a child, Michael Russell spent a lot of time in his father’s darkroom, watching and helping him develop photographs. As Russell grew into an adult, he still loved photography but opted to pursue a career in front of the camera as a television news reporter. Even as he interviewed celebrities, presidents, and wax statues of presidents, he found himself most engaged with shooting his own video, and with framing shots of natural landscapes and wildlife. He eventually would leave his broadcasting career to teach photography full time, and venture on expeditions to scenic vistas and art fairs. During Russell’s workshops, his picture-snapping protégés can pick his brain as they practice various photography concepts and sample professional lenses.
Taking a three-hour lunch break might be frowned upon when you're at the office, but not if you work for Taste of Kansas City Food Tours. The company's tour guides specialize in meals on the move, leading groups to nearby restaurants for samples of their specialties. The stops on the walking tour tend to be locally owned eateries located slightly to the left of the mainstream—though they don't shy away from a famous pizza joint or two.
One route takes guests through Crossroads, and the other explores Westport, but both fill the time between bites with facts about the neighborhood and its history. The tastings on each tour might change from day to day, so surprise is the only common ingredient. One thing you can be sure of, however, is that you'll end the afternoon with a full stomach and a stack of clean plates.