Top Museums in Missouri and Why You Should Visit Them

Missouri has many fascinating museums that preserve history, art, science, and culture. 

Whether it’s large, renowned institutions in bustling cities or small historic house museums in rural areas, Missouri offers something for every museum enthusiast.

Though less renowned than institutions in larger coastal cities, Missouri has numerous outstanding museums.

These museums spotlight thriving artistic creativity, key moments in our nation’s history, and captivating artifacts showcasing the region’s development over centuries.

Here’s a guide to ten of the best museums to visit in Missouri.

St. Louis Art Museum (St. Louis)

St. Louis Art Museum (St. Louis)
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Located in Forest Park, the Saint Louis Art Museum is a leading art museum in the Midwest. 

Its extensive permanent collection boasts over 33,000 works from 5,000 years of history. 

Notable collections include Oceanic art, pre-Columbian objects, ancient Chinese bronzes, and a significant array of Max Beckmann paintings. 

Additionally, it features 20th-century European and American paintings, prints, decorative arts, and sculptures. 

Key pieces include Monet’s “Water Lilies,” Picasso’s “The Old Guitarist,” and works by Gauguin, Renoir, Van Gogh, Matisse, and Pollock. 

The museum’s Sculpture Hall has the world’s largest collection of Henry Moore’s monumental sculptures. 

The museum offers visiting exhibitions, lectures, films, concerts, tours, and children’s art programs alongside its permanent exhibits. 

National World War I Museum and Memorial (Kansas City)

Recognized by Congress as the national museum for World War I, this institution aims to be the foremost global resource on the Great War and its lasting effects. 

Spread across two sites in Kansas City, the main building presents a mix of historical artifacts, multimedia presentations, and impactful design. 

Visitors enter via a glass walkway adorned with thousands of poppies, symbolizing battlefield casualties. 

Highlights include a recreated French village from WWI, light and film displays, and the poignant glass-floored Memorial Bridge over a field of 9,000 red poppies. 

Across the street, the second site highlights WWI’s ongoing legacy, featuring the 85-foot Liberty Memorial tower and the “Rock of the Marne” statue. 

The observation deck offers impressive views.

Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art (Kansas City)

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, a Kansas City treasure, possesses an impressive collection of Asian art and European Impressionist paintings. 

The museum consists of a neoclassical building dating back to 1933 and a modern glass-sheathed addition from 2007. 

Currently undergoing a significant expansion, the museum showcases over 40,000 art objects. 

Must-see works include Caravaggio’s “Saint John the Baptist in the Wilderness” and paintings by Goya, El Greco, Rubens, and Rembrandt. 

The museum grounds feature the whimsical Shuttlecocks sculptures and 15 other significant modern artworks. Admission is free for the permanent collection.

Missouri Botanical Garden (St. Louis)

Known as “Shaw’s Garden” after founder Henry Shaw, the Missouri Botanical Garden is one of the oldest botanical institutions in the U.S. and a National Historic Landmark. 

Spanning 79 acres, it includes themed gardens, a Japanese Garden with a teahouse and lake, a serene Chinese Garden, and a Victorian-style Ottoman Garden. 

The Climatron dome houses exotic tropical plants and birds. The Garden offers year-round events and has a children’s garden for nature exploration.

City Museum (St. Louis)

City Museum (St. Louis)
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The City Museum is a dynamic blend of artistic installations housed in the former International Shoe Company building. 

It features slides, tunnels, architectural relics, and interactive artwork. 

Highlights include a 70-foot slide, an airplane fuselage, the world’s largest pencil, and a 1920s Ferris wheel. 

The museum hosts live music, circus performances, and a nearby outdoor Sculpture Garden.

Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Home & Museum (Mansfield)

This museum is a must-visit for fans of the “Little House” books. 

Located in Mansfield, it was home to Laura Ingalls Wilder from 1928 until she died in 1957. 

Visitors can tour the farmhouse where she wrote the series and see Wilder’s family possessions, including her typewriter. 

The site includes a museum with interactive exhibits and multimedia presentations about Wilder’s life.

Precious Moments Park and Chapel (Carthage)

The Precious Moments Park and Chapel in Carthage offers an immersive experience for fans of the inspirational brand. 

Samuel J. Butcher, creator of the Precious Moments characters, established the park. 

It features a museum with Butcher’s artwork and a chapel adorned with stained glass, murals, and sculptures. 

The park includes themed gardens and memorial areas.

Titanic Museum Attraction (Branson)

This unique museum in Branson brings the story of the RMS Titanic to life. 

Visitors receive a replica boarding pass of a Titanic passenger or crew member. 

The museum recreates parts of the ship and displays over 400 artifacts from the wreckage. 

Highlights include the Grand Staircase, Veranda Café, and an iceberg touch exhibit.

Pony Express National Museum (St. Joseph)

Located in St. Joseph, the eastern terminus of the Pony Express, this museum celebrates the mail service that connected the coasts in 1860-1861. 

It features exhibits on the Pony Express route, equipment used by riders, and William F. Cody’s artifacts from his days as a rider.

The museum includes a library and hosts special events.

Featured Image: Nytimes.com

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