Take a leap back in time. Travel decades, centuries, even millenniums into the past. Missouri's excellent history museums make such a journey easy.
At the Bollinger County Museum of Natural History, in Marble Hill, you can meet “Missouri's Official Dinosaur.” Paleontologists found this impressive creature (known as the Hadrosaur or the “duck-billed” dinosaur) in 1942, near what is now Marble Hill. Kids love getting a close-up look at this life-size model. The museum features artifacts and fossils from all over the globe, a fossil preparation lab, American Indian artifacts, historic local photographs presented in digitized format, and Civil War memorabilia. A children's room offers plenty of fun and educational opportunities for young visitors. The building enjoys a spot on the National Register of Historic Places, as well as an extraordinary view of the Ozark foothills.
Jump forward from prehistoric adventure to westward trailblazing at the National Frontier Trails Museum. The frontier town of Independence served as a major starting point for exploring the American West. Don't miss the opportunity to visit the only museum in the nation certified by the National Park Service as an interpretive site for five historic trails: Lewis and Clark Trail: Santa Fe Trail; Oregon Trail; Mormon Trail; and California Trail. Examine trail diaries and artifacts, explore the research library, hike along the nearby trail, and learn from award-winning films and exhibits. Take a ride in a covered wagon to feel like a true pioneer.
The historic city of St. Joseph played a key role in westward expansion, thanks to the Pony Express. Learn about this crucial communication system at the Pony Express National Museum. The very first Pony Express rider galloped out of St. Joseph's Pikes Peak Stables on April 3, 1860. The riders traveled more than 2,000 miles—all the way to California. Today, the stables are transformed into interactive displays sharing the legacy of the Pony Express.
In St. Louis, at the east edge of Forest Park, the Missouri History Museum houses a phenomenal permanent collection and top-notch special exhibits covering Missouri history, and U.S. history.
No trip to St. Louis is complete without a visit to the Saint Louis Art Museum. Displaying more than 33,000 beautiful works of art, many with historic ties from modern to per-historic, this is one of America’s leading comprehensive art museums. Located in Forest Park, the museum is the only permanent building remaining from the 1904 World’s Fair.
The American Jazz Museum, in the 18th & Vine District of Kansas City, celebrates a quintessential American music style. Through films and interactive exhibits, learn about jazz and its role in America's and Kansas City's history. The American Jazz Museum houses the Gem Theater, a performing arts center seating 500 guests, and the Blue Room jazz club. At the same location, visit the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, which recreates the look, sounds and feel of baseball’s storied past. Videos and memorabilia in the 10,000 square-foot multimedia exhibit chronicle the leagues history and heroes, from the origin of the Negro Leagues in 1920, to the 1960s.
View excellent art and brush up on local history when you visit the Excelsior Springs Museum and Archives. Works by local artists take center stage in Gallery 105; throughout the rest of the museum, see historical artifacts, military memorabilia, and exhibits about famous people who lived in or visited Excelsior Springs—including President Harry S. Truman.
The Sikeston Depot Museum and Art Gallery displays local art with a historic twist, thanks to its location inside a 1916 train depot. In addition to the Art Gallery, the Main Gallery shows visiting exhibits from national museums. The Upper Gallery contains informative displays about the Mississippi Indian tribes. This restored depot is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Rosemary Berkel and Harry L. Crisp II Museum houses beautiful and thought-provoking works from around the region, nation, and world. In addition to the excellent art collection, the Crossroads Gallery at this Cape Girardeau museum offers a fascinating glimpse into southeast Missouri history. Exhibits and interactive kiosks include “First Peoples,” “Frontiers and Empires,” and “Change through Education.”