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.
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.
Founded in 1990, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum is a privately funded, non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the rich history of African-American Baseball. Experience a tour of multi-media displays, museum store, hundreds of photographs, and artifacts dating from the late 1800s through the 1960s.
Rekindle childhood memories as you walk through the National Toy and Miniature Museum. This 38-room Italianate mansion turned museum holds an impressive toy collection with over 300,000 items. The museum is from the combine collections of lifelong friends and collectors, Barbara Hall Marshall and Mary Harris Francis. As one of the world’s largest private collection of toys and miniatures, this museum welcomes over 25,000 guests each year. Walk into this open mansion and view the world’s largest marble collection or peek into one of the antique miniature doll houses. Explore the other rooms that feature collections of miniature paintings, lovable teddy bears, and much more.
This duo of history-rich houses showcase antebellum architectural styles, while providing insight into the mores of the era. With four tour tickets total, the historically inclined can visit each house twice or bring a friend along for each visit, while family memberships net unlimited entries for the nuclear unit, along with advance invites to special society-only events. A Greek revival-style home from 1858, the John Wornall House beckons history lovers in to watch costumed reenactors living in the past, where they play period-specific video games while drinking period-specific Mountain Dew. Regular special events at the house include paranormal investigations by local ghost hunters and recreations of the house’s past as a Civil War hospital. Dogs can sprint across the lush grounds while their two-legged companions waft in luscious scents from the herb garden, which contains a variety of delicate plants used in medicines and recipes.
Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art offers a growing permanent collection, special exhibitions, and community outreach programs. The museum is an unquestionable asset to the city and offers admission and parking free of charge. In addition to displaying artwork by a wide range of artists, the museum hosts video and film series, concerts, lectures, children’s workshops, and other creative programs which are designed to both challenge and entertain. An example of a past exhibition was Jarrett Mellenbruch: Float. Mellenbruch is a Kansas City-based artist who is known for his interest in community interaction and engagement. He set up a series of eight hammocks at the Kemper Museum, inviting visitors to relax amongst and on contemporary art.