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History Museum on the Square is USA Today's Best New Attraction Winner

Downtown's History Museum on the Square wins USA Today's Best New Attraction 2019, beating out competitors from across the country.

by Jamie Thomas

Jan 10 2020 at 11 a.m.

History Museum on the Square exterior photo
Photo courtesy History Museum on the SquareThe History Museum on the Square is the best new attraction of 2019 according to USA Today.

Have you visited the History Museum on the Square yet? You really should—it’s the best new attraction in the US according to USA Today. The museum announced this morning that people from across the country voted from a list of 20 organizations to name it number one in the 2019 10 Best New Attractions category of USA Today's Readers’ Choice Awards. As if you needed another reason to be a proud 417-lander.

“This is beyond exciting for us. Now the rest of the country will know what a treasure we have here in the Ozarks,“ said museum executive director John Sellars this morning at the official announcement. “We are incredibly grateful for the community for helping us win this honor.” As a thank you to everyone in 417-land who helped to make this happen, the museum is offering half-price admission on Saturday January 11 and Sunday, January 12. Now you really don’t have an excuse.

Front entrance area of History Museum
Photos courtesy History Museum on the SquareA steam train recreation hangs over the entranceway to the History Museum.
History Museum shootout recreation
Photos courtesy History Museum on the SquareTest your draw against Wild Bill.
Route 66 display
Photos courtesy History Museum on the SquareFind out more about the roots of Route 66.
More Route 66 display at History Museum
Photos courtesy History Museum on the SquareMore memorabilia from Route 66.
Display in entrance of History Museum
Photos courtesy History Museum on the SquareThe History Museum on the Square is full of displays and artifacts from the moment you step inside.
Slider Thumbnail: Front entrance area of History Museum
Slider Thumbnail: History Museum shootout recreation
Slider Thumbnail: Route 66 display
Slider Thumbnail: More Route 66 display at History Museum
Slider Thumbnail: Display in entrance of History Museum

If the first thing that comes to mind when you hear "museum" is dry, dull tours reading tiny placards of information, there's a lot more to the History Museum on the Square than that. One of the best things about the museum, especially for anyone with kids (or a short attention span), is the interactivity. This element of lively, active education was part of the plan from the beginning, according to Krista Adams, director of development at the museum. Touch-screen displays offer video and audio snippets about events and figures in 417-land history, from stories of the pioneers to Wild Bill Hickok famous dual with Davis Tutt.

The Hickok exhibit on the 5th floor even includes an interactive shootout, where visitors can test the speed of their own draw using replica revolvers designed to feel and weigh the same as Hickok's own Colt Navy. The surroundings inside the exhibit even offer a panoramic recreation of the square, painted by local artist Andy Thomas. A small plaque on the wall overlooking the square even lets you see exactly where the shootout between Hickok and Tutt happened.

The History Museum on the Square’s six permanent and similarly interactive galleries include:
Native Crossroads at the Spring
Trains, Trolleys and Transportation: Children’s Education Area
Pioneers and Founders at the Crossroads
The Civil War in Springfield
Wild Bill Hickok and the American West
Birthplace of Route 66.

This is just some of what the History Museum on the Square has to offer. If you're a 417-land history buff, love legends of the old west, are obsessed with Route 66, or you're just looking for something fun to do that offers a little extra, you'll find it here.

About the History Museum on the Square

History Museum on the Square is located at 154 Park Central Square in Springfield, Missouri. Admission rates for the museum are $16 for adults; $13 for seniors (65 plus), students of any age with a valid ID, and members of the military their families; $10 for children ages 4–12; and free to those under the age of three. Groups of ten or more can be accommodated with 48-hours’-notice. Operating hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Thanks to Krista Adams for additional information and to Charlotte McCoy, business manager at the History Museum on the Square, for the tour.

History Museum USA Today announcement
Photos by Jamie ThomasIt's official: America's best new attraction according to USA Today
Legends of the American West display
Photos by Jamie ThomasLegends of the American West at the History Museum on the Square.
Red's Giant Hamburg vintage sign
Photos by Jamie ThomasA vintage display for Red's Giant Hamburg in the Route 66 exhibit.
Painter's rifles on display at the History Museum
Photos by Jamie ThomasSome of the authentic rifles and guns at the History Museum.
Shootout map at the History Museum
Photos by Jamie ThomasThe display showing where the dual between Wild Bill Hickok and Davis Tutt happened.
Slider Thumbnail: History Museum USA Today announcement
Slider Thumbnail: Legends of the American West display
Slider Thumbnail: Red's Giant Hamburg vintage sign
Slider Thumbnail: Painter's rifles on display at the History Museum
Slider Thumbnail: Shootout map at the History Museum

History Museum on the Square

Visit site

154 Park Central Square,
Springfield, 65806
417-831-1976

Monday—Saturday, 9 a.m.–5 p.m.
Sunday 1–5 p.m.