History Museums and Exhibits

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Article Tags:

educational museum , Museums , museum exhibits , museums , family activities , Family Fun
Step Back in Time
Author: Hoffman Lewis

From the nation-changing trek of Lewis and Clark, to the nation-dividing battles of the Civil War, Missouri has played a major role in history. Visitors to the Show-Me State can learn about Missouri’s fascinating history at our many museums and historic exhibits.

A highlight of your journey is the Missouri State Archives, in the state capital of Jefferson City. The archives offer an impressive collection of documents dating back to 1770. Visitors interested in Missouri history and genealogical research, discover much information in the archives.


Immerse yourself in larger-than-life Missouri history at the Martin Hotel and Stage Stop Museum in Versailles. This fascinating facility holds a place on the National Register of Historic Places. Many famous people slumbered there, including Grover Cleveland, Harry and Bess Truman, Jesse James, and P.T. Barnum. Additionally, soldiers from both sides stayed at the Martin Hotel during the Civil War (although not at the same time). Take the family for a tour of this historic hotel.


In Arcadia, glimpse a piece of Civil War history at the Iron County History Museum. The museum’s collection features the Union battle flag flown at the Battle of Pilot Knob. While you are there, peruse the impressive collection of genealogy records, artifacts and photographs. The museum is in the restored 1941 Ironton-Arcadia Depot, which is an interesting piece of history itself.


Families love the Bootheel Youth Museum, located in Malden. This adventure-packed venue delights kids of all ages. The museum offers hands-on activities and imagination-sparking journeys. In the Children’s Village, examine the farm store and milk Daisy the cow. Walk in some very famous footsteps when you explore Making Tracks on the Lewis and Clark Trail. Keep an eye out for bats in the Tavern Cave. Venture up the Missouri River in a keelboat. Brave the elements with a trip to the top of the Rocky Mountains. The Bootheel Youth Museum teaches kids about history – with plenty of math, science and art (not to mention fun) along the way.       


Learn about an iconic American town at the Hannibal History Museum. Many historic moments played out in this picturesque river city. Discover the lives of river explorers and millionaire lumber barons. Learn about Hannibal’s role in the Civil War. Explore the historic importance of the steamboat and the railroad. After spending time at the Hannibal History Museum, you’ll understand why the beloved author Mark Twain found his hometown so inspiring.


In St. Joseph, learn how the Pony Express revolutionized letter-carrying in the American West. The Pony Express National Museum, housed in the original Pikes Peak Stables, invites visitors to explore the history and the legend of the Pony Express. Exhibits take guests back more than 150 years, to an era when brave riders trekked more than 2,000 miles to deliver important messages.


The National Frontier Trails Museum enjoys the distinction of being the only museum in the nation certified by the National Park Service as an interpretive site for five national historic trails: Lewis and Clark Trail; Santa Fe Trail; Oregon Trail; California Trail; and Mormon Trail. At this Independence museum, watch an award-winning film; explore exhibits about each of these major trails; examine artifacts; and take a ride in a covered wagon.


 Missouri State Archives
The Missouri State Archives, created in 1965, is the official repository for all state records of permanent ...

 Martin Hotel and Stage Stop Museum
The 28-room Martin Hotel and Stage Shop Museum is operated by the Morgan County Historical Society. ...

 Iron County History Museum
The museum is housed in the restored 1941 Ironton-Arcadia Depot. It contains an extensive collection ...

 Hannibal History Museum
Discover the rich and colorful history of Hannibal. Learn of the region’s river explorers and ...

 National Frontier Trails Museum - Independence
Independence was the major "jumping-off" point for the American West. This is an interpretive museum, ...