Around the Town Thursday: The Money Museum at Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  We’ve got a nice little post for you to read while you’re enjoying your good food.  Today we’re peeking in at The Money Museum at Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City
The Money Museum is located inside the Federal Reserve Bank

The Money Museum gives visitors the opportunity to watch millions of dollars of currency be processed, check out some interesting exhibits and learn about the economy all in one visit.  And the best part of all of this is that it’s free to view!

Reservations are not required to tour this museum for groups of 20 or fewer but you will need to go thru a security screening to get in.  You can sign up for a guided tour for groups of 15 or more.

Hours of operation, parking and accessibility information and information regarding security screening can be found here for the museum.  For a little prep for your tour you can check out highlights of the Money Museum here.  The museum recommends approximately one hour to complete the self-guided tour.  It’s right next door to the National World War I Museum at the Liberty Memorial, however, so you can make a day of it and tour both museums!

This museum is definitely worth your time, so make plans to go learn all about the economy and the currency process at The Money Museum at Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.

And make sure to stop by next week for a very special Around the Town Thursday post!  We definitely won’t be in Kansas anymore!

Around the Town Thursday: Kansas City Museum at Corinthian Hall

It’s Thursday and time for another edition of Around the Town Thursday.  In the spotlight today is a historic building that’s very near and dear to my heart: Corinthian Hall.

South facade (front) of Corinthian Hall


Porte cochere with bronze and wire glass canopy

Many local residents might know this building as the Kansas City Museum of History and Science, which it did house for many years.

Many Kansas Citians may remember such icons as the igloo on the third floor, the covered wagon on the first floor and the tepee display on the first floor of the museum.  And who could forget the Natural History Hall housed in the carriage house which was full of stuffed animals contained in lifelike dioramas of natural habitats of each animal.  I’m sure many of us remember the bear at the end of the hall!

But what many visitors of this hallowed institution may not know is the fabulous history of this building and its residents.  Kansas City has a wonderful history tied directly to the builder of this home: Robert A. Long.

Robert A. Long was many things but he’s most well-known in the Kansas City area for being a lumber baron, philanthropist and driving force behind the Liberty Memorial (now known as the National World War I Museum at the Liberty Memorial).  He was also instrumental in the building of several other buildings in downtown Kansas City, Missouri.

According to the Friends of Kansas City Museum at Corinthian Hall website, “Corinthian Hall, one of Kansas City’s larges and most well-known residences, began its life not as a plan for a mansion, but as a plan for a stable.”  According to Robert Long’s daughter, Loula Long Combs, Robert saw the need for a new stable and decided the family should also have a new home to go with it.  That decision lead to the creation of Corinthian Hall.  Referred to as Corinthian Hall because of the six Corinthian columns located in the front of the house, Corinthian Hall boasted approximately 50,000 square feet of space which was broken down into three floors containing approximately 70 rooms and closets, 15 bathrooms, nine fireplaces, an attic and a basement containing a full-length bowling alley.  The home was completed in 1910 and the Long family resided there until Robert Long’s death in 1934.

The building is absolutely gorgeous on the outside and inside.  Right now, with the restoration going on, you have to enter the grounds from the North side of the grounds.  But oh!  What an entrance.  If you happen to go during the spring and summer the wisteria may very well be in bloom on the pergolas and its so pleasant to just be able to sit on a stone bench, under the wisteria-covered pergolas and enjoy the shade and beauty of the grounds.

North entrance of the grounds of Corinthian Hall, partially showing the pergola and wisteria


Pergola and wisteria at Corinthian Hall

Access to Corinthian Hall is currently restricted to hard hat and guided exhibit tours.  I can’t recommend the hard hat tour enough.  It’s a great tour and gives visitors a great deal of insight into the history and current renovations going on.  You can see where the renovations stand now, hear about previous phases of the renovations and learn about future plans for the museum.  The stained glass, original walls and floors, grand staircase and other fancy bits are a beauty to behold, even now during renovations.  One can only imagine what the grandeur might be like when the renovations are complete.  Information on the hard hat tours can be found here.

Grand staircase


Beautiful stained glass window at the top of the Grand Staircase


Stained glass bay window in the dining room


Close up of stained glass bay window in the dining room


Close up of stained glass bay window in the dining room


Stained glass sunlight in the sun room


Decorative corner moulding located in the Grand Salon

There’s a fantastic timeline of the history of the museum on the Kansas City Museum‘s website but the short and sweet is that after Robert Long’s death in 1934 the house sat empty until 1939 when the Kansas City Museum opened it’s doors within the house.  The buildings and grounds were put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.  In 1999, the association which managed the museum merged with the entity which managed Union Station and in 2001 the two entities merged and incorporated.  In 2005, the museum embarked on it’s current path of restoration from the museum of the 1950s-1980s back into the R.A. Long home known as Corinthian Hall.

Personally I’m very excited to see the restoration continue on Corinthian Hall.  I’ve watched the restoration as its moved through each of its phases thus far in the process and, while it takes a great deal of time, I’m confident that the results will be well worth the wait.

Museum admission is currently free while the renovations are going on.  Current hours can be found here.  There are some very interesting current exhibits to be seen during your visit and don’t forget to check out their great adult and family programs that are currently available.

The few pictures I’ve included in this post are just a few of the gorgeous elements of Corinthian Hall.  Take a day to stop by and see this historic gem, take a hard hat tour, walk around the grounds and check out the beauty.  It’ll be worth your time.

Follow Friday: Ancestry Sisters

TGIF and welcome to another edition of Follow Friday.  Today I’m highlighting Ancestry Sisters‘ blog.  Here’s a quick disclaimer: Ancestry Sisters is a professional genealogist’s blog.  I have not received any compensation from Ancestry Sisters for this post.  My Follow Friday posts are as unbiased as I can possibly make them and my criteria for Follow Friday is simply that the blog has (fairly) current posts and that I feel the posts are interesting and relevant.

Anyway, I was originally drawn into Ancestry Sisters for their post series on Was Mary Doefour really Anna Myrle Sizer? Help us find new clues and confirm this mystery (it should be noted the series is a re-post of a series of articles written by Rick Baker for the “Peoria Journal Star”) but delving into their post history a little further I was excited to discover The Scary Side of Your Family Tree and The Importance of Researching Siblings.  While I don’t personally have the need for the information given in The Scary Side of Your Family Tree (at this time), it was an extremely interesting post and, heck, knowledge is power right?  The Importance of Researching Siblings, however, was a different story and provided me yet another avenue I might approach with one of my brick walls.  We’re always taught to focus on our direct lines in genealogy but here is an instance where researching non-direct lines assisted Ancestry Sisters in breaking through a brick wall they had.  Looks like I may be going off on a tangent in the next few weeks to see if I can find anything for my brick wall via her siblings.

Take a bit of time today and go check out Ancestry Sisters.  I bet you’ll find something there that may be helpful in your research.

Around the Town Thursday: Kansas Cosmosphere & Space Center

It’s Thursday and time for another edition of Around the Town Thursday!  We’re still hanging out in Hutchinson for Museum Day Live! but we’ve moved from Strataca – Kansas Underground Salt Museum to the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center!

Mercury-Redstone Rocket located outside the Cosmosphere’s main entrance

Since D1 and I were already in Hutchinson we decided to go to both the Salt Museum and Cosmosphere on Museum Day Live.  The great thing about the Cosmosphere is that there’s something there for everyone…literally.  Besides the museum and it’s massive amount of exhibits, there are films, planetarium shows, an A/V tour, flight simulator and a special conservation project tour.  You can pick and choose what you see and do while at the museum, but whatever you do make sure you allow plenty of time!  The Cosmosphere website offers sample itineraries for various amounts of time which are good guidelines.  Here’s my couple of pennies worth: forget doing anything else the day you visit the Cosmosphere because it’s absolutely worth spending all day there!

D1 and I were on limited time because Ginger J had a Boy Scout function that evening so we knew we wouldn’t be able to do everything.  We skipped the shows (and didn’t know about the conservation project tour) and we headed straight into the museum.  I’ve been to the Cosmosphere before but it’s been a very long time.  There was a new feature I hadn’t seen before prior to entering the museum: you could stand in front of one of the museum’s beautiful murals and have your picture taken!

D1 and me at the Cosmosphere in front of a mural honoring the founder, Patty Carey,
and the development of the Cosmosphere Mural painted by Robert McCall

My favorite piece of artwork at the museum is the stained glass window above the entrance to the exhibits which pays tribute to lost astronauts.

It’s a beautiful piece and I can’t help but stare at it whenever I go to the museum.

The museum is chronologically laid out very well.  As for the actual layout I personally don’t care for all the angles, I feel that it causes the museum to be disjointed and, at times, difficult to know which direction to go and what to see next.  That, however, is my only complaint about this museum and it’s a minor complaint at that.  The museum is packed FULL of great exhibits and information.  It takes you step by step from the very beginning of the space race to as current as they can get it without compromising current projects.  There’s even a small exhibit about the Berlin wall.  It amazes me how many exhibits the museum staff has been able to fit into the space they have in the museum.  I’d love to see the museum be given the opportunity to have a larger building.  I can only imagine what the staff could do with it.

There are so many exhibits it’s hard to choose just one or two to highlight here.  Some of the ones I enjoyed the most are the Berlin wall exhibit, the Kennedy exhibit, the Liberty Bell 7 and the moon rock.

A piece of the Berlin Wall on exhibit at the Cosmosphere

Moon rock on display at the Cosmosphere


Liberty Bell 7 capsule (post restoration)


Interior picture of the Liberty Bell 7 capsule (post restoration)

But out of all the exhibits there was one that was my absolute favorite: the exhibit case on John Glenn and his space flight.  John Glenn was my favorite astronaut.  He was smart, likable, well-respected, hard-working and just an all around good guy.  While not as noticed as Neil Armstrong and Gus Grissom he was an important part of the space race.  It was nice to see him get some well deserved spotlight with his own exhibit case.

John Glenn: First American in orbit


Newspaper with headline announcing John Glenn’s successful orbit

There’s also a really great outdoor exhibit of the Titan rocket that you can walk around the base of.  Unfortunately it was closed the day we went due to bad weather (I was a sad panda, I really enjoy looking around the Titan rocket pit).  Again, there is so much to see and do there it’s impossible to list everything.

The staff was friendly and helpful.  They don’t hover around you while you’re there but if you need something they’re always available.  There’s a food court if you get hungry and, of course, a gift shop that has some really cool goodies for sale.

The Cosmosphere website is informative and worth checking out to help you plan your visit to the museum.  I didn’t think the ticket prices were too bad for what you get.  The museum has longer hours than most museums as well so there’s plenty of time to peruse the exhibits if you plan ahead a little bit.  The Cosmosphere also offers opportunities for Scouts, field trips, special events and SPACE CAMP!  Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to be an astronaut for a week!

The Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center was voted one of the original 8 Wonders of Kansas.  I give it an A++!

Around the Town Thursday: Strataca – Kansas Underground Salt Museum

It’s Thursday, who else is excited for Friday eve?!  Another Thursday brings us to another Around the Town Thursday post.  Today we’re looking at the Strataca – the Kansas Underground Salt Museum.

Entrance to the Visitors Center of the Kansas
Underground Salt Museum located in Hutchinson, Kansas

Once a year the Smithsonian Magazine hosts an event they call Museum Day Live! and on that day you can get free admission to one of over 1,500 museums that choose to participate for you and a guest.  It’s not just Kansas that participates, this is a nationwide event with FaceBook and Twitter presences in addition to their website.  It’s a fantastic event and makes me love Smithsonian Magazine that much more for hosting such an event.

This year D1 and I were actually free the day Museum Day was scheduled for so we decided to make a day of it.  D1 had been wanting to go to the Cosmosphere in Hutchinson for awhile so I signed up for a ticket for us.  Tickets are issued by household so at some point he decided to sign up for a ticket to the Salt Museum, also located in Hutchinson.  I was excited about going to the Cosmosphere but to find out that we’d be including the Salt Museum in our trip made my day.  It had been awhile since I’d been to the Cosmosphere but I’d never been to the Salt Museum.  And, oh!  A blog post to boot.  It doesn’t get much better than that.

Hutchinson is about four hours away from Kansas City so we got up at really-stinking-early-o’clock in the morning to get to Strataca early enough for the first tour.  The museum is actually below ground…650 feet below ground to be exact.  The building that serves as the entrance actually doesn’t hold much more than the ticket counter, waiting area, restrooms, locker area and tour prep areas.  The tour groups are limited to 28 people because of the capacity of the elevator down to the museum.  Even though you’re assigned to a tour group, you’re not actually tied to that group for the entire time you’re in the museum.  The museum is self-paced once you get thru the initial tour guide introduction.

Large piece of salt mined in the Salt Museum

The museum website recommends allowing at least two hours for the museum experience.  You could spend far, far longer than two hours in this museum.  The exhibits are interesting, videos informative and staff friendly and knowledgeable.  The museum offers two excursion rides, each costing an additional fee after the purchase of the regular ticket (there are several different ticket options, including a Salt/Cosmosphere combo ticket).  The Train Ride and Dark Ride are absolutely worth the additional purchase.  As an added bonus to the great tours these rides provide, taking the Dark Ride gets you the opportunity to take home your own piece of salt from the museum.

D1 enjoying the train ride at the Salt Museum


Having fun at the Salt Museum!

I absolutely recommend going to see the Salt Museum!  Make sure you allow plenty of time so you don’t rush through the museum.  If you have the time and money to do both rides in addition to the museum, go for it!  D1 and I both thought the rides were worth the price paid.  Be open minded when you go, it’s not all about the mining process.  You also learn about the history of the mine, the people who worked in the mine, geology, and you even learn a little bit about post-mining storage facilities that work in conjunction with the mining operation.  Don’t hesitate to ask questions, the museum staff is knowledgeable and ready and willing to answer them.

And the Strataca doesn’t stop with the museum!  They have an events area (and often hold weddings, meetings, theater performances and other events there), different opportunities for Scouts, schools and kids in general and various special events, many of which sound like so much fun!

Take a day and go deep into Kansas…underground.