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The Dorothea B. Hoover Historical Collection

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Historic Route 66

If you traveled the Mother Road, Route 66, going from Chicago to California, you drove through the heart of Joplin, Missouri! Perhaps you stayed at a hotel, bought gas for the car, or had a delicious meal. Come get a glimpse of what it was like "in the day" when Route 66 allowed people to "See the USA in their Chevrolet!"

Bonnie and Clyde


Find your inner gangster or lawman as you view items left behind by Bonnie and Clyde during their infamous stay in Joplin. Not surprisingly, it wasn't a peaceful visit. Learn the history of the valiant lawmen who lost their lives. Mr. McGinnis, Mr. Harryman, and all the officers showed courage, sacrifice, and service to our city when the gangsters invaded Joplin.

 House of Lords Exhibit


Enjoy a hand of poker, a beautiful woman, or a great alcoholic drink? Check out the House of Lords exhibit to get a taste of how the “gentlemen” of early Joplin spent their free time in one of Joplin’s most notorious houses of ill repute.

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Joplin Fire Department

If you were living in Joplin in 1872, you may have been part of the "Bucket Brigade" which required all businesses on Broadway to keep a full barrel of water and buckets ready for use. It did not take long to see Joplin needed more than buckets.


Doll Collection


Lots of beautiful eyes and hair as well as stylish clothes adorn the exquisite dolls on display. Delicate porcelain and human hair provide a glimpse of the talent and love with which these dolls and clothes were created. Maud Taylor Johnson and her husband handmade the clothes, and furniture for “her imaginary children.”

EF-5 2011 Tornado

The 2011 EF5 Tornado changed Joplin forever. While we mourn the 161 people killed, we honor the community who came together and lifted the city up from the mile-wide path of destruction. 


Junge Baking Company


Remember the smell of fresh bread baking? In 1915 the delicious smell permeated Joplin, making many mouths water. Tip-Top Bread was delivered by a

30-horse fleet of wagons to grocery stores before investing in more modern transportation.

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 Soda Shop


Ever take your girl for a soda at the drugstore? Well, you missed out on a Black Cow that fizzed and didn't moo. Step back into a turn-of-the-century drugstore and soda fountain.

Famous Joplinites


Dennis Weaver and Langston Hughes aren’t the only famous people from Joplin and the surrounding area. TV and movie stars to racecar drivers, Joplin has some interesting characters. Check out our exhibits and see how many you knew were from here.***


Merle Evans & Circus Tent

Miniature Circus


Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Yes, step right up and see a gigantic miniature circus. Merle Evans, a famous band leader, played for circuses including Ringling Brothers.  Have a look in a funhouse mirror and hear the sounds from the Big Top. Enjoy being a kid again or bring your kids and enjoy this room full of fun and memories.

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