Kansas City Museum an 1856 Treasure Trove of Schoolhouse Artifacts
by Susan Fineman
Must See Arabia! Sounds like an odd title, doesn't it? I'll explain. In schoolhouse preservation we are always seeking useful relics of education to lend authenticity to our restored schools. Books, slates, lunch pails, inkwells...we search out these items in antique shops, on eBay, and through thoughtful donors. We often spy a treasure and think how lucky we are to find that schoolhouse artifact held by small hands of the past. Such items are also fun to see in museums, preserved for the ages.
The Arabia Museum in Kansas City, MO houses countless schoolhouse treasures that "fortunately" never made it their intended destinations, trading posts and mercantiles of the emerging west. They were lost for generations after the packboat on which they were loaded sank, the victim of a snag (tree trunks floating at high speeds like missiles). The Arabia submerged into the Missouri River for 132 years while silt piled up covering the boat with the changing riverbank.
The Arabia faded into history. It was later discovered by thoughtful treasure hunters who excavated the boat and thankfully preserved its contents to amaze 21st century visitors. Having been there twice, I can attest to the fascinating and magnetic displays that capture the imagination and keep us coming back. Tens of thousands of items from daily life in 1856 are on display including schoolhouse artifacts we quietly covet.
Prepare to spend hours at The Arabia Museum...but, there is more to come. These treasure hunters have presumably located another river boat, The Malta (1841), and now dream of a National Steamboat Museum for the future. Please do not miss this museum if you have travel plans near Kansas City. But for now, enjoy the photos below of schoolhouse artifacts resurrected from the Arabia.
Let me quote the website for brevity:
THE ARABIA STEAMBOAT MUSEUM
A popular Kansas City attraction for more than 25 years
When the mighty Steamboat Arabia sank near Kansas City on September 5, 1856, she carried 200 tons of mystery cargo. Lost for 132 years, its recovery in 1988 was like finding the King Tut’s Tomb of the Missouri River. The discovery was truly a modern day treasure-hunting story at its best.
The artifacts are preserved and displayed at the Arabia Steamboat Museum, located in the historic City Market. From clothing, fine china and carpentry tools to guns, dishes and children’s toys to the world’s oldest pickles—the collection captivates visitors of all ages. Whether it’s your first visit to this favorite Kansas City attraction or you come every year, the treasures of the Steamboat Arabia will connect you to American history in a new and exciting way.
Access the website for everything you need to know below! Watch the promo video....