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Kansas City

Posted on Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

Dave!Work started early and ended early, so I was left with four-and-a-half hours of free time to explore Kansas City. And since there's probably only ten minutes worth of crap to see here, that would be plenty of time, wouldn't it?

Ummmm... no. Not by a long-shot.

I had been here a couple times before, but assumed there wasn't much going on, so I never really made an effort to see what KC had to offer. Now I know this was a huge, huge, mistake.

And I found this out pretty much by accident.

On a previous trip, I had been to the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art. This time I wanted to go to the The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, which is kind of famous for the three giant shuttlecocks planted in front...

Nelson-Atkins Museum Shuttlecock

Inside, there is an impressive and varied collection from many different genres. I was particularly impressed with their European works, which has a terrific impressionist room. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

As I was driving to an art supply store, I saw a sign for the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. I like baseball, so I thought it might be worth a stop. I did keep my enthusiasm in check, however, because how great could it be? Probably just a bunch of glass cases filled with old stuff, right?

Ummmm... no. Not by a long-shot.

This has to be one of the most impressive shrines to the great sport of baseball that I have ever seen. And I have seen a lot of them. I was completely and utterly blown away by the amazing story they tell, and the incredible way they tell it. It's a beautiful, important, and wholly wonderful museum that manages to do a lot within a little space...

Negro Leagues Baseball Museum

I expected to spend 20 minutes here. I ended up spending an hour. I could have stayed for another. The only down-sides are 1) They don't allow photos and, 2) THEY DON'T HAVE A MUSEUM BOOK YOU CAN TAKE HOME!! This was devastating, because if any museum is crying out for a book, it's this one. I'd have even settled for a book of the quotes that are posted all over the place. Like this utterly messed-up and mind-blowing one made in response to the idea of integrating the Negro Leagues players with the Major League...

"If colored clubs were admitted there would be in all probability some division of feeling, whereas, by excluding them no injury could result to anyone."
— Raymond J. Burr, Philadelphia Pythians Representative

That's right... no injury for anyone! EXCEPT THE BLACK PLAYERS YOU RACIST IDIOT! I swear, a good chunk of the museum is very, very difficult to explore. You get to learn all about the things that these sportsmen went through just to play. Like going without food on road games because there was no place to stop that would serve "coloreds." But lest you think that the experience of being a player in the Negro Leagues overshadows the game of baseball here... it doesn't. There's loads of amazing baseball artifacts, trivia, and stories. Like I said, one of the best baseball museums you'll find anywhere. Best $8 I've ever spent. HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION!

As if having The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum wasn't enough... the same building houses The American Jazz Museum! I enjoy some jazz, but am not the biggest fan of the genre. But... the ticket was only $2 extra when bought with an NLBM ticket, so I went for it. I expected to spend 5 or ten minutes here. I ended up spending a half-hour, and could have easily stayed longer. The place is amazing. Just amazing. It's beautifully constructed with vibrant, exciting interactive displays and plenty of awesome memorabilia. All the greats are here from Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong to Duke Ellington and Charlie Parker and everyone in-between. Wish I could have taken photos to share, because it's that well done. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Looking for something else to do, I spotted a pamphlet for the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank. They have a visitor center with a massive presidential coin collection plus you get to look inside the vault to see the people working with the money there! SOLD!

Except I took a wrong turn and ended up at something called "The National World War I Museum." Oops. But since I'm here, I might as well take a look. Probably just a bunch of old junk sitting on shelves or something, right?

Ummmm... no. Not by a long-shot.

I have been to a lot of museums around the world. Seriously, a LOT of them. I can tell you right now that this mind-bogglingly amazing museum can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the very best of them. It is frickin' incredible. AND I HAVE NEVER HEARD OF IT BEFORE IN MY LIFE! I am sick at the thought that the only reason I came here was because of a wrong turn...

WWI Museum KansasCity

I spent two hours here. I could have spent two days. This museum is the very definition of "destination-worthy experience." You will not only learn a lot about The First Great World War, but you will see a lot of amazing stuff from that era. I first went to "The Main Hall" which is actually underneath that tower you see there. The displays are nothing short of jaw-dropping, both for how beautiful they are and how informative they are...

WWI Museum Entry
You enter the museum by walking across a glass bridge over a field of poppies

WWI Museum Cannons

WWI Museum Shot

WWI Museum Gallery

From there I went up "Liberty Tower" to get a view of the city...

Kansas City View

And then I went to the "Memory Hall" exhibits (that's the building to the left of the tower in my first photo)...

Memory Hall

Memory Hall

Then I went to the "Exhibit Hall" exhibits (that's the building to the right of the tower in my first photo)...

Exhibit Hall

Exhibit Hall Gas Masks

The sheer depth and breadth of the story they tell here still has me reeling. It's truly a world-class museum right here in Kansas City... and you get to see all of it for a bargain-basement price of $6. YES, YOU READ THAT RIGHT, SIX DOLLARS! Just go. Book your plane ticket and go. HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION.

After forcibly tearing myself away from the National World War I Museum, I made my way to my original destination... the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank Money Museum. It's a small museum, but impressive and fun. The only place you can't take pictures is in The Vault (which is a shame, because the money robots are cool!)...

Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City

After getting screened at security and going through a metal detector and such, you can walk through the exhibits and see the Presidential Coin Collection... featuring all the coins issued during the terms of all our presidents...

Federal Reserve Presidential Coin Collection

Federal Reserve Presidential Coin Collection
Coins from President Washington all the way to President Obama!

Very Old Money

Design Your Own Money!

How Much Does Gold Weigh?

As if all that wasn't enough, they've got a really nice hard-bound souvenir book for just $16 plus a bag of FREE MONEY! Yep! Everybody who visits the museum gets their own bag full of money...

...which has been shredded into the tiniest possible pieces.

But still, pretty cool. And well-worth a visit. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

After getting caught up with work, I decided to hit one more museum... The Hallmark Cards Visitor Center!

Hallmark Cards Headquarters

It's not very comprehensive, but gives a decent overview of the company and the stuff they make... from cards and bows to Keepsake Ornaments and gifts...

Hallmark Visitor Center Old Cards

Hallmark Visitor Center Keepsake Ornaments

Hallmark Visitor Center Card-Making

Though my favorite part was the bow-making machine which creates a souvenir you get to keep!

Overall a fun diversion... but not a critical one. I almost wish I would have gone back to the National World War I Museum.

And I'm sure I'm just scratching the surface of what Kansas City has to offer the wayward tourist. For example, I know there's a Harley Davidson Museum north of here (though it looks similar to the ones I've already been to in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania).

If only I had more time to see it all.

Anyway... I've got to get back to work now. Hopefully I've done my part to encourage you to take a trip to KC now that you know of some of the really cool stuff that's here waiting for you.

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Categories: Dave Approved, Travel 2012Click To It: Permalink


  1. Miss Britt says:

    Now I want to go to Kansas City.

    (Why don’t you have some way to tweet your posts?)

  2. Brandon says:

    Thank you for this post! I’m going to be in KC on May without children and with the wife at a conference so I have some time to kill. Already had the NLBM on my list of must sees but didn’t know about some of these other museums. Will definitely check out. Also while I’m there, Royals vs. Yankees and Sporting KC vs. Montreal Impact. Can’t believe how excited I am to go to Kansas City.

  3. Kailyn says:

    Huh. And here I thought that a visit to KC for me would just involve lots of BBQ. Glad to hear about the loads of other stuff to do.

  4. B.E. Earl says:

    I definitely plan on visiting KC and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum one of these days. Buck O’Neill would’ve turned 100 this year, and they are doing a special fund-raiser. $100 for Buck’s 100th. Raising money for the museum and you get a plaque permanently displayed there. Buck was one of the great ones!

  5. All of that looks so cool. I would probably map out a culinary tour myself as good ol’ KC is a great BBQ destination! Glad you found so many amazing places to visit!

  6. All of those places sounded really cool! So, like, when are you going to write a Dave Tour Book? HUH?

    Plus? That bow-making machine is the shizz!

  7. the muskrat says:

    Wow…have never thought about visiting KC before now! That’s some cool stuff right there.

    Did the

  8. Sybil Law says:

    There are no wrong turns… just detours.
    I just made that up.
    Anyway, I’d love to visit most of those places!

  9. Megan says:

    Huh. Who’d have thunk it?

  10. Gary says:

    When my partner got back from this year’s Small Growth Conference in San Diego, he said next year’s conference location was Kansas City, and everyone around him muttered something about sitting that one out. I’ll show him this and ask him to spread the word. Thanks!

  11. Greg says:

    Now, I really, really want to go to Kansas City. The WWI museum looks incredible!

  12. kilax says:

    I wonder if my BiL knows about that baseball museum. He lives in KC and loves baseball. I wonder if my husband’s family knows about a lot of that stuff. We are always bored out of our minds when we go there, looking for things to do, but maybe with these museums, it’s similar to how I don’t want to go to the Museum of Science in Indiustry in Chicago. I would like to visit Hallmark. I liked the World War I Museum.

    In KC though, you must go to Füd. Have you been there? (

  13. jenny says:

    Glad you enjoyed your visit to KC. All of the museums you visited are well done. The World War I museum exhibit designs were done by Ralph Applebaum, the same exhibit designer that designed all of the exhibits for the National Holocaust Museum in Washington DC.

    If you ever get back to KC another baseball museum worth a visit is the Kansas City Royals Hall of Fame Museum located at Kauffman Stadium.

    It always a good feeling to know that others enjoyed visiting both the artistic and cultural places of the town you live in.

  14. Carl says:

    KC is a weekend jaunt for me and you’ve hit some great spots.

    Another you may have loved is the Steamboat Arabia Museum, showing preserved artifacts dug up from a riverboat that sunk over a decade earlier.

    KC is one of the gems of “fly-over country.”

  15. Seals says:

    I love the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum more than I’ll ever be able to explain. I cried several times during my first visit.

    Arthur Bryant’s Barbecue should also be on any list of Kansas City recommendations for meat-eaters. The legendary barbecue sandwich is enough to feed two big eaters. I doubt they have much for vegetarians (fries and BBQ sauce?) but everyone else should go.

  16. claire says:

    Union Station is also cool. I took a few of my favorite photographs in KC. Alas I only had a few hours as I was just passing through. Glad I made the stop though!

  17. I am so sad that I didnt know you would be in town in time to ditch work. The Liberty Memorial (the WWI museum) is truly incredible. You got some great shots. I love the one of the glass bridge. Mine didn’t come out so great – I’ll have to go back.

  18. Sarah1976 says:

    This post was e-mailed to me by a friend and I couldn’t be happier about your experience. I grew up in KC and have lived in Germany for the last 8 years. Trips home are usually full of seeing family, but I’ll keep this in my back pocket for the inevitable downtime that comes with family obligations. It’s hard to see a place where you just lived your daily life as a tourism destination – your post helps immensely.

    By the way, did you have a guided tour at Liberty Memorial (WWI museum)? I think my uncle leads tours there!

  19. martymankins says:

    Incredible photos. And so awesome you got to see so much while there. Must visit Kansas City at some point in my life.

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