The great state of Kansas is home to an extraordinary list of unforgettable museums. Museums dedicated to collecting and caring for objects of cultural significance, artistry, science, historical interest, etc. Choosing 10 museums to highlight, as the 10 best in the Sunflower State, is a monumental task created by this diverse legion of museums who call Kansas home.
Naturally, you make the most out of your trip to the Oz Museum by starting right at the beginning of the legendary Yellow Brick Road. Then, prepare to embark on a journey into a world modeled after a 116-year-old story that just about everyone knows. Get to know Dorothy and her sweet little pup Toto. Prepare to be whisked away by Kansas winds to the mystical Land of Oz. You will surely be lifted right over the rainbow with the amount of amazing material to see.
Most museums have walls, but the Tall Grass National Preserve in Kansas is open air and covers over 10,000 acres in the Flint Hills. Rich in history and the home of an estimated 500 species of plants, 150 species of birds, 39 species of reptiles and amphibians and 31 species of mammals, give or take a few. Don’t drive by, stop and experience this museum.
This Smithsonian affiliate museum houses over 13,000 incredible space artifacts—making it the largest collection of both United States and Russian space relics on the entire planet. There are four venues on these grounds: The Hall of Space Museum, The Justice Planetarium, The Carey Digital Dome Theater, and Dr. Goddard’s Lab. Make sure you give yourself enough time to experience every one of them!
Once inside the door, the adventure begins at the Museum of World Treasures in Wichita. An old-world map takes visitors on a journey. Learn who lived on this planet for the last 40 million years, be entertained by a 38-foot teenage T-Rex fossil named Ivan, or get inspired by the original treasure hunters—the Spanish Conquistadores. Discover European dynasties, travel through medieval periods, then become a part of the romance of the wild, wild west. This interesting and diverse museum is filled with so much to see and do.
The Sternberg Museum offers visitors unimaginable findings which prove the flatlands of Western Kansas were once one of the most exciting places on earth and at one time, underwater. Learn about species that occupied Kansas’ great inland sea millions of years ago. Dinosaurs, fossils, prehistoric animals and giant sea-swimming lizards that lived in Kansas over 70-80 million years ago. But before you leave this incredible museum be sure you see the most photographed fossil, Gillicus in Xiphactinus or better known as the “fish within a fish.”
Relive the legend of the old west and discover the preservation of one of the most famous western towns, Dodge City, Kansas. Over 60,000 artifacts, photographs, and documents, including more than 200 original guns, are on display within the walls of this western town-site museum. Visit the Long Branch Saloon, the General Store, the Boot Hill Cemetery and learn about the Native Americans, the earlier settlers and the soldiers who make up the history of Boot Hill.
Located on a World War II airfield strip at Topeka’s Forbes Field, the Combat Air Museum houses 36 airplanes rarely seen. The vintage airplanes and displays represent World War I to present day war planes. Visitors also can examine a variety of aircraft engines, military vehicles, a field chapel, a German POW barrack and a simulated field kitchen. Best part, the museum volunteers are familiar with, and passionate about, the airplanes on display and can answer all your questions.
Take an incredible journey through the Museum at Prairiefire and unwrap interesting wonders of natural history and science’s greatest mysteries. See rare world-class exhibitions from the American Museum of Natural History. Spend time learning how science evolved in the Michael L. Kahn Science Theater, and in the Great Hall visit the “Alive” program and learn about prehistoric creatures brought to life. Children of all ages will enjoy the Discovery Room’s hands-on interactive spaces, meant to touch, hold, play with and use.
Celebrate the magic of riding a carousel when visiting the C.W. Parker Carousel Museum in Leavenworth. One of several museums sponsored by the Leavenworth Historical Museum Association. This museum is unique and is a fascinating adventure through the life work of C.W. Parker’s carnival inventions and artistry. Ride the museum’s 100-year-old carousel exhibit, and admire the artistry and the ingenious mechanics of this magical machine known as, the carousel.
Follow the steps of America’s most legendary female pilot from the very start of her journey. This museum has been restored to its turn-of-the-century condition, featuring a plethora of highly personal memorabilia. Earhart was a pioneer of American aviation, an author, and the first woman to fly alone across the Atlantic Ocean. Between setting records, and penning best-selling books about her travels, there isn’t a whole lot this amazing woman didn’t do.