Must-See Museums in Kansas City

Hey y’all! Scott Asner here. Kansas City is well-regarded for its picturesque fountains, jazz, and barbecue, but did you know that it’s a must-see destination for museum-goers? We have an interesting variety of artifacts, and we’re also home to the only museum in the United States dedicated to the of America’s Western trails. Here are some of my favorite local museums:

National Frontier Trails Museum
Just 20-minutes from Kansas City, in Independence, Mo., you’ll find covered wagons and nearly 3,000 original, first-person accounts of settlers who traveled the Oregon, Santa Fe and California trails at the National Frontier Trails Museum. The site itself was a main starting point for hundreds of thousands of pioneers who risked their lives to start anew in the American West.

The National WWI Museum and Memorial
History buffs will wander in awe at The National WWI Museum and Memorial in Kansas City. Built in Egyptian Revival architectural style, the building is an iconic landmark that boasts more than 100,000 artifacts. It’s been designated as America’s official WWI museum by Congress. Visitors can walk through a life-size howitzer crater, peek into trenches, and more. The museum’s centerpiece is the Liberty Memorial Tower structure, which rises 217-feet above the main courtyard and features an open-air observation deck with incredible city views.

The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures
If you ever want the experience of feeling like a giant, head to the The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures. The museum is home to the world’s largest collection of fine-scale miniatures and one of the largest collections of historic toys currently on public display. Toys here document our society’s cultural beliefs and technological advancements, making this a fun discussion with friends, families, and peers. Some toys date back to the 18th Century.

Arabia Steamboat Museum
The Arabia Steamboat was one of many casualties on the Missouri River – the longest river in the U.S. The Arabia Steamboat Museum houses 200 tons of cargo from life on the American frontier in 1856. This is one of Kansas City’s most popular attractions, and for good reason. The museum offers visitors a rare opportunity to experience everyday items that made life possible for pioneers during that time period. It also features the largest single collection of pre-Civil War artifacts in the world.

Shoal Creek Living History Museum
If you really want to stroll down memory lane, head to the Shoal Creek Living History Museum.
Tucked away on 80 acres (out of the 1,000 acres that makes up Hodge Park), the museum has 21-structures and 17 authentic buildings from the 19th century dating as far back as 1807! Interestingly, the historic log cabins and homes were relocated from nearby counties to make a village setting.

Truman Library and Museum
One of only 14 U.S. Presidential Libraries, the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum chronicle’s the life and career of the 33rd President of the United States. The museum recently finished a huge renovation, the first in more than 20 years and the largest since the museum opened its doors in 1957. Exhibits depict Truman’s most difficult decisions, like the atomic bomb, Cold War, and more. Visitors will see two of Truman’s offices ¬¬– the actual office he used from 1957-1966 and a replica of his Oval Office. The museum also has a vast collection of historical possessions, political memorabilia, and diplomatic gifts.

The next time you’re in town, make sure to leave plenty of time to visit these must-see museums in Kansas City. If you’re a local, any of these museums are such an incredible opportunity to feel transported to a different place. I highly recommend taking your time exploring the many important and historical findings at Kansas City museums. I don’t have much free time, but when I do, you’ll find me wandering the exhibits.

~ Scott Asner, wannabe musician and Founding Principal of Eighteen Capital Group (18CG) in Kansas City, Missouri.

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3 Fun Things to Do in Kansas City

scott asner

Hello everyone, Scott Asner here. I’m a long time Kansas City guy. While we’re not the most visited city, maybe we should be. This place is very special with much to do. Allow me to share three of the best things to do in Kansas City.

  1. Feel the Mist of a Local Fountain
    Kansas City is known as the City of Fountains. We have more than 200 fountains, 48 of which are open to the public. In fact, we’re rumored to have more fountains than Rome! It’s not in every city that you can spend the day fountain hopping, but you can in Kansas City.

If you’re short on time, I recommend you put the Women’s Leadership Fountain in the Paseo West neighborhood at the top of your list. This is the city’s oldest working fountain and dates back to 1899. Another great one to visit is the Mill Creek Fountain. It’s the most photographed of all our fountains and for good reason. It’s beautiful and has a fascinating history. It arrived here in 1951 from Paris, where it was built more than 40 years prior.

  1. See Larger than Life Art
    Kansas City is home to some of the best museums and art galleries in the Midwest, but to me, our most exciting art is found on walls, sidewalks, and bridges. We have incredible murals – and much like the fountains, we have about 200 of them too. They are large and commanding. You could spend all day, all week, even all month, visiting these jaw-dropping works of art.

Some of the murals tell a story from the past while others call attention to local values, activities, and people. As a sports fan, one of my favorites is the 1,600 sq ft mural on the side of Tom’s Town Distilling, it’s the Chiefs Kingdom Mural honoring the city’s championship football team. I also particularly enjoy the mural that’s the facade of the parking garage for the Central Branch of the public library. The garage looks like a row of books on a shelf, but these aren’t your average library books. These “books” are 25-feet tall and nine-feet wide. The books are quite detailed too. There are 22-titles represented, ranging from “The Lord of the Rings,” by J. R. R. Tolkien, to “Fahrenheit 451,” by Ray Bradbury, among others. When you go, look for the books along the south wall of the Central Library’s parking garage on 10th St. between Wyandotte St. and Baltimore Ave., but, really, you can’t miss them.

  1. Head to Market
    Kansas City’s River Market is well known for its weekend farmers’ market but it’s located in a beautiful neighborhood as has much more to offer than just fruits and veggies. Shop for locally made goods, browse the mom-and-pop stores, then stroll along Berkley Park and take in the stunning views over the Missouri River. If you have time (and to keep with my 200 theme) check out the Arabia Steamboat Museum, where you’ll find an impressive collection of pre–Civil War artifacts and hear the legendary tale of the loss and discovery of the steamboat’s 200 tons of mystery cargo.

There are many more things to do in Kansas City but if I had a handful of hours to meander, I’d do one or all of these. Enjoy your time in our fabulous city.

~ Scott Asner, wannabe musician and Founding Principal of Eighteen Capital Group (18CG) in Kansas City, Missouri.

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