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Frugal Kansas City Staycation – Money Museum

I’m off work this week, so the name of the game is frugal family fun. We started the morning with a mix of the usual activities – gym, piano lesson, Lego club.

Since spring refuses to show up, we opted for an indoor activity this afternoon, and hit up the Money Museum at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.  Cost? My favorite number, $0. Admission is always free, and the museum is open every Monday through Friday excluding holidays. There was also free parking directly next to the main entrance.

I’m sure on a nice day you could spend time outside enjoying the huge lawn, various sculptures/fountains, and of course the view of the Liberty Memorial. It would be the perfect spot for a picnic. However, today was not nice so we quickly went inside and out of the cold.

We had to go through security, but it was a quick painless process – the guards were very nice and gave the kids stickers. Once inside, the museum is right there, and the kids instantly began exploring. Everyone was quickly drawn to the giant bar of gold, which you can attempt to lift.

Only Mr. BPR was successful. The gym membership is paying off! There’s a sign next to the bar that tells you the current value – today it was over $500,000.

There are lots of small interactive displays full of information, which of course the kids were not interested in. I actually enjoy reading that sort of thing, but small children rarely allow that. Spinning circles is much more fun…

That being said, there were a decent amount of kid-oriented displays. A favorite was designing your own bill. They went straight to the $25 million. You can email the final version to yourself, which they thought was cool.

There were also displays discussing educational concepts such as needs versus wants, different methods of savings, etc.

While the younger two (5 yo and 2 yo) enjoyed manipulating the moving parts, I think the big concepts were lost. That’s ok, though. It certainly kept them occupied.

In addition to the solid gold bar, there were other neat displays, like this wall of $40 million dollars, as well a collection of various coins and bills used throughout our country’s history.

By far the coolest part was the vault, which for security purposes doesn’t allow photography. The vault itself was huge, with each vault door weighing 9 tons! You could see robots moving in/out (named Dewey, Louie, Ben…not sure what happened to Huey) receiving and delivering crates of currency. It was really impressive to see them in action – the kids stood silently mesmerized for a solid 5 minutes, which almost never happens.

At the end, you get a free bag of shredded money. Plastic bling ring not included.

We always take a family poll after any outing, to see what everyone’s favorite part was and how many “thumbs up” they give it (each person is allowed their 2 thumbs). Everyone agreed the vault and robots were their favorite. Our oldest son loved it, giving it 2 thumbs. Our daughter declared it “boring” with 0 thumbs. Our youngest son doesn’t know how to vote, and will either say “no” to anything you ask or agree with whatever the last thing was you said. We’ll say he gave it 1 thumb. Mr. BPR and I each gave it 1 thumb – it was neat, but short.

The word museum felt a bit like an overstatement, but maybe we’ve spent too much time at the Smithsonians or big art museums. This took maybe 30 minutes to get through, which means we spent more time driving than in the actual museum. Still, it was worth going to, and you can’t beat free.

Official family vote: 5/10 thumbs up

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