Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Activity: Steam Boat Arabia Musuem

Location: 400 Grand Blvd, KC MO.


Hours and Rates: Open 7 days a week. M-S 10am until 5:30. Sunday: 12 pm to 5.
Adults: 12.50. Ages 4-12: 4.75. 3 and Under are Free

Ages: I would keep this for the older kids, atleast 5 years of age. However, if you have a kid in a stroller, that works just as well.

For those who are not familiar with this museum and what it is, let me explain. The Steam Boat Arbia was a steamship that sank in the Missouri River in the later half of the 1800's. The river then changed course and the ship was covered by dirt. Eventually some people dug it and that's how you got the museum. What makes this interesting though is that everything that was in the ship was intact and was basically a big time capsule.

I have seen a lot of well done musuems and exhibits in and around KC. This one though, has got to rank up there with one of the best. It's a huge building that appeared to be really well kept. The top floor is reserved for eating and shopping and this is where the tours begin. This is one of the reasons I wouldn't take toddlers to this. You have to be part of a tour, at least at the start. They do give you plenty of time to roam free but 20 minutes is spent listening to a tour guide. This is great if your kid can stay still and not distract you. Those aren't my kids though so I missed most of what our tour guide said.

However, shortly after the speeches you are allowed to roam through the exhibits and I think this is really the thing that sets this musuem apart. The exhibits are exceptionally well done. They have a recreated paddlewheel that is actually working on the old drive train of the boat. My son couldn't get enough of this. Other pieces of the boat are spread throughout the museum and are in really good condition. They put back together a back portion of the boat so you can actually see what it was like and it's really well done.

Most of the other exhibits are behind glass which was a great thing in our case. 3 year olds can tend to be a bit grabby and this prevented them from destroying anything and us getting banned. As you can see, the museum is not built for the younger crowd so I'm not sure how much they got out of it. Toddlers are big in to touching and learning and there wasn't much of that here. The dad's however thought it was great and loved to see everything that was pulled out of the boat.

Woodworking tools, nails, horse gear, sacks--you name it. It almost felt that if it existed in the 1800's then we had a chance to look at it. Guns, ammo, and tons of other stuff made this one of the more interesting exhibits that we have seen.

I do want to add this: the museum is superbly laid out with large spaces so even the kids that weren't able to really grasp any of this had plenty of room to move around without worrying about hitting anyone. As a parent, I always appreciate this.

Final call on this one: 12 bucks is a little high but in the end I thought it was worth the price. The exhibits are first rate and so is the building. The large spaces makes it manageable for younger children and the paddle wheel will distract just about anyone long enough for you to read a couple of plaques.

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