History Vacations with a Local Flavor

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Article Tags:

educational museum , Museums , museum exhibits , museums , historic , Historic Sites , State Historic Site
Exploring Missouri’s Past
Author: Barb Brueggeman
Missouri's museums offer a gateway to the past while shedding light on the present - and possibly the future. Exploring museums is how we learn who we were and how we came to be who we are. It’s an opportunity you’ll find in abundance in Missouri’s museums, particularly those dedicated to Show-Me State history.

Lewis and Clark are the epitome of American explorers; their adventure began right here in the Show-Me State. A visit to the Lewis & Clark Boat House and Nature Center in St. Charles is the perfect way to kick off your own history quest.

Located in Forest Park, the Missouri History Museum in St. Louis was originally built as the first national monument to Thomas Jefferson. That portion of the museum was built entirely from proceeds from the 1904 World’s Fair, which is also the theme of one of their ongoing exhibits. Although general admission to the museum is free; some special exhibitions may require a fee.

State capitals are often filled with historic landmarks and monuments of famous founding fathers. The Museum of Missouri Military History, six miles east of Jefferson City, however, is dedicated to all the ordinary men and women who bravely stepped forward in defense of our state and our country by serving in the Missouri National Guard. From the founding of the Missouri Militia in 1808 through the Civil War and foreign conflicts to humanitarian relief missions, the museum pays homage to all those who serve and served. Be sure not to miss the captured Nazi flag, signed by the men who brought it home and the exhibit saluting WWI soldier (and Missouri native son), President Harry S. Truman. The museum is moving into a newer, larger facility and will reopen in early September. Admission is free.

Archeology brings up visions of Indiana Jones roaming exotic locations seeking artifacts. Discover Missouri’s own archeological treasures at the Rosemary Berkel and Harry L. Crisp II Museum at Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau. Explore the daily and ceremonial lives of the prehistoric American Indians through the incredible permanent collection of whole ceramic vessels, effigy fragments and some 2,000 stone tools – some date from as far back as 13,500 B.C. Admission is free.

About an hour north of Cape Girardeau, in Ste. Genevieve, you find a collection of historically significant buildings dating to the 1700s. Marvel at the craftsmanship of French Colonial architecture at sites such as the Felix Valle House State Historic Site, which contains three distinct properties: the 1792 Amoureux House, 1818 Federal-style Felix Valle House and the 1819 Shaw House.

Across the state, in Springfield, The History Museum on the Square develops short-term rotating exhibits throughout the year, focusing on local history. Part of the museum’s unique multi-building location is the historic Fox Theatre.

Lexington is best known for the nearby Civil War battle, but it is so much more than that.  The Lexington Historical Museum chronicles the area’s rich past through exhibits on the Osage Indians, Pony Express, steamboats and other history-making entities, as well as Civil War displays.

Take a walk back in time in the Show-Me State and share your favorite stories and photos on VisitMO's Facebook page. Days and hours of operation vary by location, so be sure to call or check online before you head out on your own personal voyage of discovery. Museums specializing in local history, Civil War sites and historical landmarks are just a small part of what Missouri has to offer visitors who love history.


 Lewis and Clark Boat House, Museum and Nature Center
This educational facility has exhibits on the Lewis and Clark Expedition and the Missouri River ecosystem. ...

 Missouri History Museum
Originally built as the first national monument to Thomas Jefferson, the Missouri History Museum looks ...

 Museum of Missouri Military History
Exhibits date from the founding of the Missouri Militia in 1808, to today's modern Guard. Items cover ...

 Rosemary Berkel and Harry L. Crisp II Museum
The museum features the Crossroads Gallery, which includes exhibits and interactive kiosks highlighting ...

 The History Museum on the Square
Beginning with the region's prehistoric origins, museum displays take the visitor through the earliest ...

 Lexington Historical Museum
Housed in an 1846 Cumberland Presbyterian Church, the museum features exhibits on the Osage Indians, ...

 Felix Valle House State Historic Site
This historic site includes three houses: the 1818 Federal-style Felix Valle House; the vertical-log, ...