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The National Museum of Toys/Miniatures. Courtesy

Local museums abound with special exhibits for family fun this summer

With the school year rapidly winding down, parents are looking for ways to entertain their kids this summer. Many local museums are offering special exhibits that are educational as well as fun.

The Truman Library Institute is planning to transform the grounds of the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum, making it a national heritage site. Leaders plan to add walking trails, war memorials, a monument sign, landscaping and improve the memorial courtyard.

The Kansas City Museum opened Elixir, its posh soda fountain, to the public this year. The museum is partnering with local restaurants and coffee shops for Elixir’s menu. After finishing renovation of Corinthian Hall in 2021, the Kansas City Museum is also now working with architects to restore the Carriage House. It will include a new weathervane, a SkySpace and the JewelHouse.

The Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year with a new exhibit, “New Acquisitions,” highlighting pieces it has acquired since 2022.

The Missouri Model Railroad Museum in Independence will hold its soft opening on National Train Day, with a grand opening on the horizon. The museum, in the Waggoner Gates Mill, will tell the history of railroads in the state and region, featuring model displays, artifacts and more. Meanwhile, the National Frontier Trails Museum, which used to be located in the Waggoner Gates Mill, is temporarily set up in the Truman Memorial Building as it awaits a new, bigger facility.

The Black Archives of Mid-America Kansas City is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. The nonprofit collects and preserves materials on black history in Kansas City, making them available as a resource to the community. The organization recently received and dedicated a 12-foot mural of H.W. Sewing, founder of Douglass State Bank, the first black-owned bank in Kansas. It’s now on display.

The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures opened a new exhibit, “Art of the Imagination,” featuring creative pieces to challenge the viewer to reconsider the ordinary as extraordinary. The museum also will offer a three-day children’s camp this summer, encouraging imagination and creativity with museum artists and staff.

The National WWI Museum and Memorial already unveiled a slew of upgrades, but the work doesn’t stop there. The museum has more projects ahead into 2025. It now is offering 3D virtual reality experiences, including one that will transport guests to the Western Front of WWI. Museum leaders also are putting finishing touches on the “In the Trenches” displays, making them more interactive. This year, the museum also plans to add a new field hospital display, an immersive film projected on a battle crater and more.

negro leagues royalsThe Negro Leagues Baseball Museum recently announced it will become the new home to the cleats from a vandalized Jackie Robinson statue. The statue made headlines earlier this year when it was stolen from a Kansas park, leaving only the base and cleats remaining. The cleats will be on display as part of the museum’s Jackie Robinson exhibit, as the NLBM works to teach fans about the pioneers of black baseball.

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art has some impressive new exhibits open this summer. The upcoming “Niki de Saint Phalle: Rebellion and Joy” exhibit features works in two- and three-dimension that resonate with visitors of all ages. Most of her pieces on display have never been seen before in the United States. The museum also recently received a major gift and a $100,000 award. “A Religious Allegory on the Death of a Young Woman” is the last known work by celebrated painter Maria Cosway and only the second piece of her work in a North American public collection.

rabbit hole

Courtesy photo.

The Rabbit hOle in North Kansas City is bringing children’s literature to life. The museum already is making national headlines, and its grand opening celebration sold out. Leaders already are working on new exhibits and updates, because two more floors of the building are waiting to be filled in the future.

Science City is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2024. It just unveiled a new robotics-themed exhibit and is working on another new illusions experience.

Union Station will host “Disney100: The Exhibition,” which opens on May 24. Kansas City is one of the first three cities to host the historic North American tour. The exhibit features more than 250 artifacts, props and costumes spanning 10 galleries.

The 21c Museum Hotel is about to open its newest art exhibit, “The Future is Female,” and it’s free for the public to explore. The new exhibit highlights contemporary definitions of female identity and experience through the works of feminist artists.

–Anita Widaman |  Metro Voice

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