A glass bridge is suspended above a field of 9,000 red poppies, each flower representing 1,000 soldiers who died in the Great War. This living symbol is one of the many powerful exhibits within the National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial, the only museum in the U.S. dedicated exclusively to World War I and dedicated by Congress as the nation's official World War I museum in 2004. Named one of the top 25 museums in the U.S. in TripAdvisor's 2014 Travelers' Choice Awards, the Museum is also rated the No. 1 attraction in Kansas City.
Designed by Ralph Appelbaum, who also lent his expertise to such landmarks as the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the National World War I Museum integrates first-person accounts into a narrative that flows through its permanent and visiting exhibitions. The Museum's collection comprises World War I artifacts such as field artillery, a 1917 Harley Davidson motorcycle, and unopened cigarette packs from a 1914 Princess Mary Christmas Box. The Museum also includes Over There Caf? and a comprehensive gift store.
Though built as a private home in 1901, the Victorian mansion stood vacant for years?until its first children's hands-on exhibits opened to the public more than 30 years ago. Since then, The Magic House's curators have worked to engage children of all ages in learning and creative thought through a range of interactive multimedia exhibits. Their exhibits enable visitors to service cars, climb treehouse ladders, and go fishing in a child-centric community, or play with pumps and pipes in a waterworks playground. They can also climb a three-story fairy-tale beanstalk or use detective skills, fingerprint analyses, and secret passageways to solve mysteries.
Museum staffers also organize a range of themed birthday parties, during which attendees play and complete special tasks as time travelers, scientists, or fairy-tale nobility. Family programs encompass monthly visits from outside professional artists, and special events designed to get the whole family moving. Visitors can refuel for exploration at the on-site Picnic Basket Cafe, whose menu highlights whole grains and healthy ingredients.
Busts of Stan Musial, Lou Brock, Ozzie Smith, and Jack Buck line the Legends Walkway outside the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame. But the museum spotlights more than just baseball history. Its inductees hail from the high school, collegiate, and professional ranks, including players and coaches from the Rams, Chiefs, Royals, and Blues. Highlights of the many exhibits and articles of sports memorabilia include the Budweiser NASCAR car, the wing dedicated to the Missouri Valley Conference, and the pole that Paul Bunyan used to vault over the St. Louis Arch.
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.
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 the pantheon of American explorers, there are few names as revered as Lewis and Clark. After securing the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, President Thomas Jefferson needed someone to map out the newly doubled national borders. The two U.S. Army officers were the men for the job. They set out into the great unknown in May of 1804, and except for the one Cracker Barrel they stopped at mid-journey, St. Charles was the last familiar piece of America they knew until their return trip in 1806.
As a testament to their momentous voyage, the Lewis & Clark Boat House & Nature Center houses full-scale replicas of the explorers' boats, half-scale 18th and 19th century buildings, and displays about the Native Americans that Lewis and Clark met along the way. Outside its walls, the museum also gives visitors a glimpse into the ecosystems that the pair explored. Visitors can walk on trails through the woods and wetlands to find herons, deer, and indigenous plants.