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Saint Joseph, Missouri, is a small city with a rich history. It was the starting point of the Pony Express and the place where iconic news anchor Walter Cronkite grew up. Not only can you travel back in time at the city’s museums and learn about the Civil War and the infamous outlaw Jesse James, but you can also take in impressive art on the city’s downtown sculpture walk. Antique stores and outstanding food beckon as well.
Saint Joseph’s Pony Express National Museum, featuring everything from exhibits highlighting the brain trust behind the operation to displays covering life along the route, is worth visiting.
The Glore Psychiatric Museum chronicles the nearly 150-year history of the state hospital, with an emphasis on the treatment of mental health. The exhibits respectfully cover actual cases, including that of a patient who swallowed more than 1,400 pieces of metal, including safety pins and needles. Another patient hid notes inside the back of an old television set; these were later discovered and displayed at the museum. The Glore also traces the history of mental health treatment, all the way back to the time when the mentally ill were accused of witchcraft.
Another interesting local museum is the Doll Museum, which features about 1,500 dolls and accessories from different time periods, including Barbie dolls, Cabbage Patch dolls, and unique dollhouses.
The Black Archives Museum highlights the contributions of local African Americans, including the musician Coleman Hawkins and the National Football League star Mike Rucker.
The Native American Gallery contains part of a 4,000-piece collection donated by a Saint Joseph resident, including handmade pottery and beaded clothing. You can learn about locals’ roles in World War I in the History Gallery. Edmond Jacques Eckel designed some of Saint Joseph’s best-known buildings, including the Mosaic and the Corby Building. His work and life story are covered in the Eckel Collection.
From traditional classical art to large-scale murals covering the sides of downtown buildings, Saint Joseph boasts a vibrant art scene.
The Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art features oil paintings from the 18th century as well as contemporary art. The museum also hosts special exhibits.
Downtown Saint Joseph is home to impressive public art, including an iconic statue honoring the city’s role in the Pony Express and other sculptures highlighting the city’s pioneer past. A sculpture walk sponsored by the local arts council will take you past a variety of contemporary pieces.
In recent years, artists have added larger-than-life murals to the sides of the city’s historic buildings. These murals commemorate the city’s history and feature tributes to Native Americans and the city’s music scene.
As you explore downtown Saint Joseph, you’ll want to visit some of its unique shops, such as the Tobiason Art Glass Studio. Tobiason specializes in stained glass for churches as well as private homes. Some unique pieces feature flags and seasonal characters like snowmen, Santa Claus, etc.
Downtown Saint Joseph also offers plenty of antique stores, among them The Lucky Tiger, which sells vintage clothing, home decor, and vinyl records. A visit to The Lucky Tiger is a fun trip down memory lane.
As you browse, stop in at Cafe Pony Espresso and grab a coffee and a treat.
Offering a refreshing nature walk along the banks of the Missouri River, the Remington Nature Center features a lovely floral exhibit near its entrance. As you tour the visitor center, you can learn about the area’s history, from the days when giant mammoths roamed to the time of the Civil War.
The recent Super Bowl champions, the Kansas City Chiefs, have called Missouri Western home each preseason for several years. Fans flock to Saint Joseph over a three-week period beginning in late July to get autographs and pictures and to watch their favorite Chiefs players practice. The Chiefs play at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, which is about an hour south of Saint Joseph.