13 Best Museums in Kansas City You Must Visit

Last Updated on October 30, 2023 by Nikki Jain

Kansas City, Missouri, makes for the perfect weekend getaway. There is so much to do in KC, from terrific food and drink scenes to charming neighborhoods and museums.

Kansas City has so many incredible history, art, and kids museums to visit on your next trip. From modern masterpieces to historical artifacts, Kansas City's museums offer a diverse range of experiences that are sure to leave you awe-inspired.

Here are the top picks for the best museums in Kansas City.

Best Museums in Kansas City

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1: National WWI Museum and Memorial

National WWI Museum and Memorial
National WWI Museum and Memorial | Dreamstime/Sean Pavone

If you go to one museum in Kansas City, the National WWI Museum should be it. It is the only WWI museum in the country and has awe-inspiring exhibits, including a war scene in the trenches you walk through.

The entire museum has amazing artifacts and is very informative. It is visually appealing and done well to make it interesting to all audiences; even if you're not a history buff, you will enjoy it.

Give yourself plenty of time to get through the museum, at least 2 hours. When you are done, you can go see the Memorial and ride to the top, giving you an epic view of the city.

If heights aren't your thing, you can walk to the level above the museum to see an incredible view of the city. The surrounding area has trails and a huge lawn to picnic or enjoy the weather. This is one of our favorite spots for a run or picnic.

Directly across the street, you will see Union Station, an over 100-year-old train station that is just incredible and worth a stop after you see the National WWI Museum and Memorial.

Address: 2 Memorial Dr, Kansas City, MO

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2: Nelson Atkins Art Museum

Nelson Atkins Art Museum
Nelson Atkins Art Museum | Dreamstime/Giban59

The Nelson Atkins Art Museum is a gorgeous building with sculptures on the front lawn that have become a bit of a KC icon: the giant shuttlecocks.

The building and the sculpture garden are incredible in themselves. You will find a unique sculpture garden sprawled out on the lawn to walk around and admire. After you have explored the garden, head into the museum. Nelson Atkins is one of the best art museums in the country.

You will find a massive building filled with almost any kind of art you can imagine, including contemporary, photography, African American, Chinese, South and Southeast Asian, Modern, and the list goes on.

And the best part? It's free but does appreciate donations. Check out their events page to see if they have something going on. They put on wonderful events that are free to the public occasionally.

In the summer months, you will find a put-put golf outside on the museum grounds, with each hole being created by an artist- each one more unique than the last. It is such a fun activity.

Address: 4525 Oak St, Kansas City, MO

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Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Kansas City

3: Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art

Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art
Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art | Dreamstime/Chris Labasco

The Kemper is within walking distance from the Nelson Atkins Museum and is one of our favorite KC museums. It is much smaller than Nelson Atkins and is all contemporary art. It also has beautiful sculptures inside and outside to look at. It is undoubtedly worth the visit and will take less time due to its size, but it has incredible art that is unique and beautiful.

Address: 4420 Warwick Blvd, Kansas City, MO

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Also Read: 20 Best Art Museums in the USA

4: American Jazz Museum

American Jazz Museum
American Jazz Museum | Dreamstime/Bdingman

The American Jazz Museum is centered around the influence, awareness, and love for American jazz. It is located in the Jazz District in KC. This is also a great area of town to hop into a jazz club and enjoy some incredible live music and a drink. This area is also known as 18th and Vine due to its street location in KC.

Address: 1616 E 18th St, Kansas City, MO

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5: Negro Leagues Baseball Museum

Negro Leagues Baseball Museum
Negro Leagues Baseball Museum

Negro Leagues Baseball Museum is dedicated to teaching the public about the history of the Negro League baseball in America and its impact on the Civil Rights Movement as well as the challenges the players faced. It is also located in the same building as the American Jazz Museum. We would highly recommend visiting both as they have important cultural and historical impacts on Kansas City and our country as a whole.

Address: 1616 E 18th St, Kansas City, MO

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6: National Museum of Toys and Miniatures

National Museum of Toys and Miniatures
National Museum of Toys and Miniatures | Flickr/Anthony G. Reyes

The museum has the world's largest collection of fine-scale miniatures and one of the largest collections of historic toys. The museum has toys from the 18th century to the present and teaches about the role toys play in our society in providing comfort for kids and what they were teaching children then. It is a great place to reminisce about the role toys played in our childhood and fond memories of playing with beloved toys.

Address: 5235 Oak St, Kansas City, MO

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Also Read: Best Children's Museums in the USA

7: Money Museum

Money Museum
Money Museum | Dreamstime/Fotoeye75

The Money Museum is all things money. It is located at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. You can lift a real gold bar, view the historic Harry S. Truman coin display, and enjoy interactive exhibits about money and the U.S. economy. The Money Museum is an engaging way to learn about every aspect of U.S. money and our economy. It is also located close to the WWI museum in Crown Center, walking distance.

Address: 1 Memorial Drive, Kansas City, MO

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8: Arabia Steamboat Museum

Arabia Steamboat Museum
Arabia Steamboat Museum | Dreamstime/Redwood8

The Arabia Steamboat Museum is dedicated to all the artifacts found when a steamboat sank in the Missouri River in 1856. Over 100 years later, it was discovered with over 200 tons of cargo, from tools, dishes, and children's toys to many other goods of the time.

It is so much fun to walk through and see all the cargo they found and learn about the items. This is a great museum for kids and adults alike. It is a blast seeing all the treasures from the boat. You can even see part of a steamboat rudder move through the water in the lobby, which is pretty neat. 

It is located in the City Market, the farmer's market area of town. After you go to the museum, stop at City Market to shop for local goods or sip coffee at one of the charming coffee shops.

Address: 400 Grand Blvd, Kansas City, MO

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9: Jesse James Home Museum

Jesse James Home Museum
Jesse James Home Museum | Dreamstime/Dustin88

The home of famous outlaw Jesse James is a museum about Jesse James and his life as an outlaw. This is the home of Jesse James and the location where he was gunned down. A block from the Jesse James Home Museum is the Patee House Museum, a hotel in the 1920s, a pony express, and a Union headquarters during the Civil War.

Address: 1201 S 12th St, St Joseph, MO 64503

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Also Read: Famous Historic Homes in America

10: Kansas City Museum

Kansas City Museum
Kansas City Museum | Dreamstime/Adam Wineke

A museum dedicated to all things Kansas City, about our culture and history. With rotating exhibits, there is always something new and exciting to learn about Kansas City. Tickets are free, making it a perfect stop!

Address: 3218 Gladstone Blvd, Kansas City, MO

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11: Harry S. Truman Presidential Museum

Harry S. Truman Presidential Museum
Harry S. Truman Presidential Museum | Dreamstime/Ken Wolter

The Truman Presidential Museum is a world-class museum with interesting exhibits covering topics including the Cold War, racial discrimination, the atomic bomb, and other vital issues Truman faced during his presidency. This fascinating museum covers Truman's personal life, political career, and American history, making it a must-see museum in Kansas City.

Address: 500 W US Hwy 24, Independence, MO 64050

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12: Historic Garment District Museum

Historic Garment District Museum
Kansas City Museum

The Garment District Museum is dedicated to Kansas City's historic garment district, which was once the largest in the country. It displays over 20,000 items made in the museum to view.

The garment district that made clothing from hats, dresses, suits, children's ware, and more was bustling from the 1920s to 1940, employing over 4,000 people and being one of the largest producers of clothing in the U.S.

It is estimated in the 1940s, 1 in 7 women in America owned a Kansas City made garment. It is free to visit the museum, but you must make an appointment a week ahead of time to view the museum.

Address: 801 Broadway Blvd., Kansas City, MO

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13: TWA Museum

TWA Museum
TWA Museum

The TWA museum is dedicated to the history of TWA Airlines, one of the most significant airlines that pioneered air travel during the era of global expansion. If you are an airplane buff or a traveler, you will love learning about the history of TWA and seeing all things retro air travel.

This is such a unique and interesting museum that was a big part of KC's history as it was headquartered here. What a great place to wander around and imagine you're traveling in the golden age of air travel.

Address: 10 Richards Rd, Kansas City, MO 64116

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Wrapping Up

You will find that the museums in Kansas City are all stellar and wonderfully curated. They are all so well done, and you are sure to learn something new. If you have limited time in KC, we highly recommend the WWI Museum and Memorial as the top pick. There is a museum for every interest, from clothing, airlines, art, history, jazz, and more! Enjoy your museum exploration while visiting Kansas City!

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