While in Kansas City, we made a point to do more than just go to a baseball game. One of the more significant things to visit in the area is the Harry S. Truman Library & Museum in Independence, MO, which is just east of the city.
We got to the museum around 10 am and spent about three hours there. It was pretty empty when we got there, but it was starting to get busy by early afternoon.
It’s a nice little museum. The exhibits are done in a fairly contemporary style. A lot of older museums have a dated style, while some newer museums are overwhelmingly interactive. This one strikes a good balance. It was a good reflection of the personality of this understated, “regular midwestern guy” who happened to have been president.
It was a lot of information. There were so many significant things that happened while Truman was president: the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the beginning of the Cold War, the Marshall Plan, the Korean War, the rise of the American middle class and consumer lifestyle. It was fascinating to spend a few hours focusing on the beginnings of what we typically think of when we picture 20th century American society.
The first floor of the museum is a series of rooms that feature Truman’s presidency. There is also a peaceful courtyard which contains an eternal flame, the graves of Truman and his family (wife, daughter, and son-in-law). Off the courtyard is a little room with a view into Truman’s office, where he worked from the time the library was built until he died.
The second floor has a newer (seemingly), more kid-friendly and more interactive exhibit, that focuses more on Truman’s life. There was also a temporary exhibit called “Memories of Korea”, which wasn’t as well-done. It had some interesting information about the Korean War, but it felt very disjointed, without much of a narrative.
Recommended if you’re ever in the Kansas City area!