Nationally Designated Museums Tell All-American Stories

Kansas City Boasts National Pride Year Round

Although Kansas City is historic, distinctive and cosmopolitan with a small town ambience, “as American as baseball and apple pie” would still be an apt description. So here’s a closer look at where you can celebrate Kansas City’s spirit of patriotism and national pride all year-round.

Westward Ho!

Serving as a museum, interpretive center and research library, the National Frontier Trails Museum is the only museum in the country dedicated to telling the rich history of America’s foremost western trails.

Located “next door” in Independence, MO, the site is literally the key "jumping off" point for the Santa Fe, Oregon and California Trails. More than 2,600 original, first-person diary and letter trail accounts, trail artifacts and authentic covered wagons help weave the tale of how the trails and the pioneers who traveled over them—including explorers Lewis and Clark—played a dramatic role in the development of the history of this country.

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Remembering the “Great War”

Built in the Egyptian Revival architectural style and home to more than 75,000 World War I-related artifacts, the National WWI Museum at Liberty Memorial is one of Kansas City’s iconic landmarks.

Designated as the official WWI museum by Congress, this non-profit, state-of-the-art facility honors those who served in the “Great War,” which marks its centennial in 2014, through detailed, comprehensive exhibits examining every facet of this historic global conflict. The centerpiece structure here is the Liberty Memorial Tower, rising 217 feet above the main courtyard with an open-air observation deck at the top offering spectacular views of the city.

Negro Leagues Baseball Museum

America’s Pastime

Kansas Citians are immensely proud of their baseball history, and it was here in 1920 that the Negro National League and the legendary Kansas City Monarchs black baseball team, made history. That history is celebrated at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.

Fashioned as a throwback to the nostalgic feel of the mid-1900 ballparks through historic timelines, state-of-the-art interactive displays, themed galleries, artifacts and lifestyle exhibits, it is a testament to the perseverance of its legendary stars like Jackie Robinson, John "Buck" O'Neil, Judi Johnson, Satchel Paige and John Henry “Pop” Lloyd, among others, who despite the Jim Crow segregation of the day, attracted throngs of interracial crowds to celebrate America’s favorite pastime. The facility was recently designated as America’s National Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.

Jazz Museum

All That Jazz!

Grasp the flavor and flair of another original American art form—past and present—at the American Jazz Museum. Located in the famed 18th and Vine Historic Jazz District, the museum celebrates jazz through centerpiece exhibits honoring the historic careers and legacies of Charlie “Bird” Parker, Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie, and other jazz greats, coupled with jazz and blues artifacts, commissioned artwork, listening stations, interactive touch screens, custom mixing boards and more.

The Blue Room—the museum’s “working exhibit”—offers a sophisticated musical experience with vintage photographs, memorabilia and artifacts that serve as a backdrop for a wide array of regional, national and international artist performances here.

National Museum of Toys and Miniatures

For the Kid in All of Us

The Midwest's largest collection of antique toys and the nation's largest collection of contemporary, fine-scale miniatures are found at the National Museum of Toys and Miniatures (formerly the Toy and Miniature Museum of Kansas City). Featuring more than 72,000 objects from antique dolls and doll houses to dump trucks, ceramics, silver, erector sets, furniture, figurines and more, the museum speaks to the art of play and the imagination.

Although closed for renovations until its grand re-opening in 2015, visitors can still explore many of the world-class pieces at the nearby Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, including miniature replicas of works of art from the Nelson’s permanent collection.

National Treasures

The National Archives at Kansas City is home to historical records dating from the 1820s to the 1990s, created or received by more than 100 Federal agencies in Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

As one of 15 facilities nationwide where the public has free access to Federal archival records, you’ll find over 50,000 cubic feet of documents, selected military service indexes, architectural drawings, microfilmed materials, photographs and maps, plus an array of exhibits, workshops, lectures, programs and online genealogy subscription services.

Flying High

Located in Hangar 9 at the Historic Charles B. Wheeler Downtown Airport, the National Airline History Museum plays a vital role in preserving and presenting Kansas City’s aviation history. Celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2014, the museum (and former TWA Airlines headquarters) highlights the "Golden Age of Aviation" via a diverse and extensive collection of aircraft, artifacts and exhibits from the Wright Brothers’ first historic flights through today’s mega jet age. The Star of America, the first restored "Super G" Constellation, a rare 8/24 configuration Douglas DC-3, a Lockheed L-1011 TriStar, and a Martin 404-N-145S, are among the historic aircraft found here.

Hoops Haven

Further cementing the area's reputation as a hoops hotbed, Kansas City is home to the state-of-the-art College Basketball Experience (CBE). Sweating is almost inevitable as CBE's high-energy exhibits recreate the intensity of a college basketball game-from foul-line hecklers to a last-second buzzer beater. Each visitor's journey ends with a stop in the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame, a quiet space devoted to the game's greats. Interactive kiosks offer a glimpse into each inductee's legacy.

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