The Top 10 Museums in the Springfield/Branson Areas

Museums give back so much to our communities by preserving the history of our people, cultures, hobbies, and all sorts of topics of interest to the public. It is the closest thing we have to a real time-machine, which is incredibly exciting. The areas of Springfield and Branson offer so much to nostalgia-seekers, and those who are perhaps reminiscing the days of their youth, some even offer free admission.

Springfield is home to the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame,3861 Stan Musial Drive, (417-889-3100) and just 30 minutes north of Branson. Some of the greatest sports heroes are showcased here, many of which are Springfield natives. You’ll see an impressive display of exhibits in baseball, football, racing, fishing, boxing, and more. Some of the fondest memories and greatest names in Missouri sports are featured such as Tom Henke, Jim McManis, Mickey Owen, Leon Spinks, and more. Admission is $5 adults, $4 for Seniors, and $3 for students. Museum hours are Mon-Sat 10 am to 4 pm, Sunday 12 pm to 4 pm, year round. For more information, log on to: www.mosportshalloffame.com .

Located in the beautiful and impressive Springfield City Hall is the History Museum for Springfield-Greene County, 830 S. Boonville, (417-864-1976). Admission is free, but donations of $1 – $3 are greatly appreciated. This museum is all about the one-of-a-kind history of southwest Missouri. Browse through over 3,000 square feet of permanent local history exhibits, as well as rotating exhibit galleries. You’ll travel back to the prehistoric times through the late 1950s. Themes of the exhibits cover Native American history, pioneer life, Civil War, the Victorian Era, World War 1 and 2, business and commerce, and the Ozarks Jubilee. Educational hands-on areas are included for children! The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10:30 am to 4:30 pm. For more information, log on to: www.springfieldhistorymuseum.org.

For the air and military enthusiasts, you won’t want to miss the Air & Military Museum of the Ozarks, 2305 E. Kearney, (417-864-7997). Learn all about the history of the military and flight in this incredible “hands -on” museum, which lets you actually take an imaginary flight in a real Cobra helicopter, or type a message on a teletype writer! Museum hours are Tuesday-Saturday 12pm to 4 pm, other times by appointment. Admission is $3 for adults, $1 for children 6-12, and free for children under 6. For more information visit: www.ammomuseum.org.

The Gray/Campbell Farmstead, Nathanael Greene Park, 2400 S. Scenic, (417-724-0880), traces the history and home life of John Polk Campbell, nephew and namesake of the founder of Springfield, MO. See a real old-fashioned farmstead with the original 1856 home, detached log kitchen, log granary, two crib barns, and the family cemetery. The informative, friendly guides present this historic tour in authentic period-era costumes to enhance the fun! Hours are week-ends 1 pm tp 4 pm, April through September, and admission is free.

If you can’t get enough of the Civil War, you will most definitely not want to miss General Sweeny’s Museum of Civil War History, 5228 S. State Highway ZZ, (417-732-1224). You’ll marvel at the vast collection of Civil War artifacts which tell the story of the war in Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas, and Indian Territory. See amazing original photographs, weapons, flags, uniforms, and more. Open March through October. Hours are Wednesday- Sunday 10 am to 5 pm. Admission is $4.50 for adults, $3.50 for children 5-11. For more information, log on to: www.civilwarmuseum.com . If you have some extra time to spend and plan to head south about 35 miles to the city of Branson, you’ll find a host of great museums there too!

A must-see favorite for locals and visitors alike is the Ralph Foster Museum at the College of the Ozarks, Point Lookout, Mo (417-334-6411 ext. 3407). I have often visited this museum since my childhood, and I can tell you, it is ever-evolving and never becomes tiresome. My favorite exhibit is also the most famous one- the original car driven by “Jethro” in the popular 1960s television show The Beverly Hillbillies. This museum also features an absolutely amazing variety of exhibits from western and Native American Artifacts, firearms, antiques, dolls, natural history, and other amazing one-of-a-kind items from all over the world. Plan on spending the better part of your afternoon when you visit because this vast museum offers 3 stories of exhibits. The museum is located at the College of the Ozarks Campus on Point Lookout, which is only two miles south of Branson, Missouri. Admission costs are: $4.50 for Adults, Senior Adults (62 and Older) $3.50, High School Age and Under – Free. If you arrive After 3:00 p.m. – Next Day Free with previous day’s receipt. Hours are 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday – Saturday, Closed to the public the week of Thanksgiving and Mid-December through January. For more information, log on to: www.rfostermuseum.com . Of all the museums in the area, this one is my personal favorite, and impressive enough to be on anyone’s top 10 list of best museums.

One of the newest attractions in Branson is Titanic- the World’s Largest Museum Attraction, located in the heart of Branson at Highway 76 & Gretna Road, (417-334-9500). You have to see this amazing museum to believe it! Walk the Grand Staircase, touch an iceberg, experience actual first account stories of the passengers, sit in a lifeboat, see the only known photographs taken on board Titanic in the Father Browne Gallery, view over 400 rare artifacts, and so much more. The Titanic is open year-round 9 am to 10 pm, May 22 through December 16, 9 am to 6 pm, December 17 to January 1. For more information, and ticket prices, or to reserve tickets online log on to: www.titanicbranson.com.

For the kid in all of us, there is the World’s Largest Toy Museum, 3609 State Highway 76, (417- 332-1499). Toys, toys, and more toys is what you’ll find here, including everything you grew up with, and toys from the 1800s! See exhibits that include train sets, Barbie’s, Mrs. Beasley dolls, cast-iron & tin wind-up toys, lunch boxes, pedal cars, cap guns, and all the toys dedicated to generations of childhood heroes like Shirley Temple, Tom Mix, Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, and Groucho Marx. But you’ll also find toys and action figures from your favorite movies like Star Wars! So much to see, and a gift shop too! Stop by and relive your childhood! For hours and more information, log on to: www.worldslargesttoymuseum.com .

If you’re interested in the history of our nation as well as past presidents of the United States, you will want to check out the American Presidential Museum in Branson, MO, 3107 State Highway 76, (417-334-8683). Sit in an actual oval office, learn all about Air Force One, and view numerous photographs and historical items. Find out what it is like to be a First Lady, and browse through the replicas of the First Lady’s gowns while you also remember great moments in history.

Cowboy fans everywhere will simply not want to miss the Roy Rogers-Dale Evans Museum (417-339-1900), dedicated to the life of Roy Rogers, “King of the Cowboys,” and his queen, Dale Evans. Located at 3950 Green Mountain Drive, just across the street from Celebration City, this museum has been a hit with everyone since it moved to Branson from Victorville, California in 2003. You can learn so much about Roy’s life from visiting this wonderful museum. An incredible photo gallery traces Roy’s childhood, and throughout his life with wife Dale, their successful careers, and loving family life. Not just exhibits, but tangible pieces of their lives are here for you to see, such as a few of the tools belonging to Roy’s dad, his mom’s scrap books, the family dinner table, Roy and Dale’s costumes, boots, Roy’s convertible, and even Trigger himself! For more information, log on to: www.royrogers.com .

This is just a sample of the museums you may want to visit should you find yourself passing through the Springfield or Branson, Mo areas. There are so many museums, it is impossible to mention them all, and new ones are opening every day, like the Patch Collection Museum at the Dick Clark Theater in Branson, featuring classic cars from 1957. The main goal of a museum is to preserve history for our enjoyment, and to teach future generations. What better way to do learn as well as reminisce, than by visiting a museum where history comes to life before your eyes? Visit one of ours, or one in your own hometown, and you’ll be surprised at how fun it really is!

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