Arabia Steamboat Museum

Arabia Steamboat Museum Arabia Steamboat Museum is home to 200 tons of frontier bound cargo lost when the steamboat Arabia sank in the Missouri River near Kansas City in 1856.
(482)

When the steamboat Arabia sank in the Missouri River in 1856, some said she carried gold...others said fine china. What was actually discovered will amaze you! Explore the lives of the Western pioneers through the story of the sunken Arabia and its cargo, a remarkable time capsule of life on the American frontier. You will also be intrigued by one of the greatest treasure-hunting stories ever told. And don’t be surprised if you are greeted by one of the original excavators as they are often here to welcome guests.Their tale of adventure has made the museum a favorite Kansas City attraction since 1991.

Operating as usual

This beautiful pitcher found on the Arabia would have brought some real refinement to the frontier. It was produced in S...
07/28/2020

This beautiful pitcher found on the Arabia would have brought some real refinement to the frontier. It was produced in Staffordshire, England by the Thomas, John, and Joseph Mayer ceramic works, which won an award at the London Crystal Palace Exhibition of 1851. It is made of parian, a type of porcelain that was developed in the 1840s to imitate marble. The characters molded into the surface represent the French novel “Paul and Virginia.” This story takes place on the island of Mauritius, where the two were raised. Virginia is sent to visit an aunt in France and when she returns, her ship sinks just off the coast of the island. The sailors try to convince Virginia to remove her heavy clothing so she can swim to shore, but she refuses out of a deep sense of modesty. Paul helplessly watches the scene from the shore and dies of a broken heart.

The distinctive maker’s mark on the bottom represents the British Royal Coat of Arms, with the unicorn representing Scotland and the lion representing England. Manufacturers who provided goods to the royal family could apply to use the mark on their products as a form of marketing.

07/27/2020
A Carpenter's Tools

These tools belonged to a carpenter who was among the passengers aboard the Arabia on its final voyage. The tray that holds the tools here was found inside a larger box which was so well built that only a small amount of mud had seeped inside, indicating he was a skilled carpenter. While his identity is a mystery, these items tell us he was likely headed west to help build settlements that were just springing up in Kansas, Iowa, and Nebraska in 1856 and the loss of these tools would have created a real hardship as they were essential to his livelihood.

Here’s another Arabia At Home Activity to try with the kids!POLISH A PENNY ACTIVITY: At the museum, we clean shiny metal...
07/23/2020

Here’s another Arabia At Home Activity to try with the kids!

POLISH A PENNY ACTIVITY: At the museum, we clean shiny metals like copper with the blue tool seen here, an electric eraser. It’s the safest way to remove tarnish without damaging the surface of the metal. Kids can try this method at home by using any pencil eraser to clean old, tarnished pennies.

You can try a further experiment by using common kitchen items to clean a penny. Try soaking some pennies in ketchup, lemon juice, or a vinegar/salt mix. Leave the pennies to soak for about 30 minutes and then wash them with water. Which cleaner works best? Why do you think these liquids can clean copper? Can you think of anything else that might work to clean a penny?

Time: 30 minutes

Materials Needed: Old pennies, pencil erasers, ketchup

Objective: Experience artifact preservation techniques

Missouri State/Common Core Standards Supported: SS.7.1.10: Identify artifacts

In progress today in our lab: Buffalo Overshoes! These rare shoes, which may have been army surplus from the northern fo...
07/20/2020

In progress today in our lab: Buffalo Overshoes! These rare shoes, which may have been army surplus from the northern forts, were recently removed from our freezer and thawed. After carefully rinsing them today, we’ll resew the missing stitches. The sole is made of leather and if you look carefully at the second photo, marks have been scratched into the leather indicating this pair is a size 13.

Arabia At Home Activity: For parents looking for fun, educational activities to do with their children while at home, we...
07/16/2020

Arabia At Home Activity: For parents looking for fun, educational activities to do with their children while at home, we’ll be sharing some ideas from our educational curriculum. The first is a Cookie Excavation!

Activity: Excavating artifacts and preserving them is a delicate process. To demonstrate this, have the children attempt to remove a chocolate chip from a cookie using only toothpicks. Just like an archaeologist working to carefully excavate an artifact buried in the ground, the goal is to remove the chip without damaging it. Can you remove the chip in one piece?

Time: 15-20 minutes
Objective: Learn about archaeology
Missouri State/Common Core Standards Supported: SS.7.1.10: Identify and create artifacts

This stove top is one of several recovered from the Arabia and is a symbol that appreciation for the efforts of healthca...
07/14/2020

This stove top is one of several recovered from the Arabia and is a symbol that appreciation for the efforts of healthcare workers goes back many years. The decorative ironwork bears the name of Florence Nightingale, an affluent Englishwoman who became known around the world in the 1850s for her work as a nurse during the Crimean War. She advocated for better hygiene and medical equipment for treating soldiers wounded in battle and later established a training school for nurses. The Bridge & Brothers Co. of St. Louis made this stove in 1856, the same year the Arabia sank, showing that stories of Nightingale’s efforts were reaching halfway around the world.

John Snyder Pringle owned the boatyard in Pennsylvania where the Arabia was built in 1853. He was born in 1804 and began...
07/09/2020

John Snyder Pringle owned the boatyard in Pennsylvania where the Arabia was built in 1853. He was born in 1804 and began working in a boatyard building keelboats in his early twenties. As riverboat design advanced, Pringle went on to design and build steamboats. The hull design of his first steamboat was copied by many builders due to its ability to float in shallow water. Pringle’s company eventually built over 500 boats in his yard on the Monongahela River at West Brownsville. The largest steamboat constructed there was the Illinois, which measured 304 feet long, compared to the Arabia’s 171 foot length.

07/08/2020

We could all use a little relaxation these days and few things are more calming than watching a paddlewheel slowly churning away.

Now available from our Gift Shop, "A Remembrance" of the Steamboat Arabia. This small fragment of wood from the hull of ...
07/06/2020

Now available from our Gift Shop, "A Remembrance" of the Steamboat Arabia. This small fragment of wood from the hull of the boat comes on a stand measuring 4.5 x 3.5 inches. We have a limited quantity available for $30 (shipping included). Call 816-471-1856 to order or drop by the store and pick one up for $21.99 + tax.

Come celebrate this 4th of July weekend with us at the newly reopened Arabia Steamboat Museum. The tour is now self-guid...
07/03/2020

Come celebrate this 4th of July weekend with us at the newly reopened Arabia Steamboat Museum.

The tour is now self-guided, with a new series of short videos that walk you through the story of the Arabia dig. Museum staff and members of the original dig team will be there if you have any questions along the way.

Bring your family and bring your mask, and enjoy our newly designed tour experience!

This patriotic brass medallion was found among the cargo of the Arabia. The museum is open July 4 from 10:00 to 4:00. If...
07/03/2020

This patriotic brass medallion was found among the cargo of the Arabia. The museum is open July 4 from 10:00 to 4:00. If you plan on visiting us, please arrive by 3:00 to ensure plenty of time to see the collection and remember to bring a face mask. Happy Independence Day!

We are pleased to announce we are opening our doors tomorrow, July 1, after an extended hiatus due to COVID-19. We have ...
06/30/2020

We are pleased to announce we are opening our doors tomorrow, July 1, after an extended hiatus due to COVID-19. We have some exciting updates to share with you. The first is that there are no longer guided tours of the museum. Instead, the tour is self-guided, with a new series of short videos that walk you through the story of the Arabia dig. Museum staff and members of the original dig will be there if you have any questions along the way. Also, masks are required per city ordinance. We ask that all visitors keep at least 6 feet of distance from all museum staff and other guests not in your party. Thank you for your understanding and for your patronage. We are excited to welcome you back to the Arabia Steamboat Museum!

The Arabia Steamboat Museum will reopen Wednesday, July 1. To safeguard the wellbeing of our staff, guests and community...
06/22/2020

The Arabia Steamboat Museum will reopen Wednesday, July 1. To safeguard the wellbeing of our staff, guests and community, masks are encouraged, but not mandatory, for guests. Staff will wear masks. Thank you for your continued support as we navigate these challenging times. We hope you all stay safe and healthy. Please check our social media channels for further updates.

03/19/2020

The Arabia Steamboat Museum will be closed starting today, March 19, to safeguard the wellbeing of our staff, guests and community. Thank you for your continued support as we navigate these challenging times. We hope you all stay safe and healthy, and we will update you as the situation unfolds and we learn more from public health officials.

03/17/2020

The museum remains open, but in accordance with recommendations from local, state and federal health officials, we are not allowing groups of more than 10. We are closing early each day at 4:00 for cleaning.

03/16/2020

Museum Update:
The Arabia Steamboat Museum is currently open, but we are making some temporary changes to our operations as a result of concerns over the coronavirus. We are operating in accordance with the city’s social distancing protocols and standards, so we are not allowing groups of more than 50 at a time. For the safety of our visitors and staff, we will not be conducting guided tours. Guests may explore the museum at their leisure. The museum will operate on a modified schedule: Monday to Saturday 10:00 to 4:00 and Sundays 12:00 to 4:00. We are closing early each day to give our staff time to disinfect the facility. We thank you for your understanding during this time and hope you all stay safe and healthy.

02/02/2020
Hail to the Chiefs: Kansas City’s Journey to the Super Bowl 50 Years in the Making

Reminder: The Arabia will close at 4 p.m. today, with the last tour at 2:30. Go Chiefs!

In preparation of the game tonight, take a look at this tribute video our very own Matt Hawley made to honor this team and teams past: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=maVbhw-JqY0

Let’s share this with the #ChiefsKingdom!

The Kansas City Chiefs, led by MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes, will take the field in Super Bowl LIV against the San Francisco 49ers at the Hard Rock Stadiu...

A gorgeous pair of earrings we came across this week as appraiser Tim Gordon examines the Arabia collection. He’ll be he...
01/09/2020

A gorgeous pair of earrings we came across this week as appraiser Tim Gordon examines the Arabia collection. He’ll be here through tomorrow (Friday, January 10)

The Arabia's collection is being evaluated this week by Timothy Gordon, who you may recognize as a featured appraiser on...
01/07/2020
Expert from ‘Antiques Roadshow’ appraising collection at KC’s Arabia Steamboat Museum

The Arabia's collection is being evaluated this week by Timothy Gordon, who you may recognize as a featured appraiser on Antiques Roadshow l PBS
Find our more about his work in this piece from FOX4 News Kansas City and come see Tim and his team in action all this week as they examine the Arabia's treasures!

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A celebrity appraiser with an expert eye is helping curators at Kansas City’s Arabia Steamboat Museum estimate a value for the collection while also setting the stage for a potential new home for the recovered artifacts. “This is the King Tut’s tomb on the Missouri,” said...

12/30/2019
Timothy Gordon -Appraiser

Next week (January 6-10) we will be visited by Tim Gordon, a featured appraiser on Antiques Roadshow l PBS We invite the public to watch as Mr. Gordon and his team examine unique items from the Arabia collection. This is a rare opportunity to observe an appraisal in progress as we seek to determine the historical and monetary value of the artifacts for our long-term planning.

For those who enjoy the interesting stories -the appraiser's chronicles of Timothy Gordon, noted appraiser to some of the world's rarest collections

Merry Christmas from the Arabia crew!
12/25/2019

Merry Christmas from the Arabia crew!

We periodically rotate our textile display to help keep the vibrant colors in our fabrics from fading. These items are n...
12/05/2019

We periodically rotate our textile display to help keep the vibrant colors in our fabrics from fading. These items are now on display and it's easy to imagine the pioneers bundling up in them on a blustery winter day!

The museum will be closed Thursday for Thanksgiving, but we'll have tours every 30 minutes on Friday from 10:00 a.m. to ...
11/27/2019

The museum will be closed Thursday for Thanksgiving, but we'll have tours every 30 minutes on Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Wishing you all a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Come check out our new display and video about the lives of children during the steamboat era!
11/21/2019

Come check out our new display and video about the lives of children during the steamboat era!

This fanciful maker’s mark on a bowl from the Arabia represents the British Royal Coat of Arms. The lion symbolizes Engl...
11/14/2019

This fanciful maker’s mark on a bowl from the Arabia represents the British Royal Coat of Arms. The lion symbolizes England, while the unicorn represents Scotland. Manufacturers who provided goods to the royal family were granted permission to use the mark on their products as a form of advertising. However, many makers used the seal without permission to make their goods appear to be of higher quality, prompting greater enforcement of the rules by the 1840s. The Thomas Goodfellow pottery was located in the Staffordshire region, where most of the dishware found on the Arabia was manufactured.

Happy Halloween! We're open 10:00 to 4:00 today, with the last tour at 2:30...have a safe & happy Halloween!
10/31/2019

Happy Halloween! We're open 10:00 to 4:00 today, with the last tour at 2:30...have a safe & happy Halloween!

10/07/2019
Cornfield Shipwreck (presented by CuriosityStream)

Discover the buried treasures of the American frontier in "Cornfield Shipwreck," a new, short documentary about the Steamboat Arabia and the Steamboat Malta (presented by CuriosityStream). With archival footage from the Arabia excavation, interviews with the unlikely team of diggers and a jet boat ride across flooded farm fields to locate the sunken Steamboat Malta, this documentary is a vivid glimpse into the life, craftsmanship and enterprise of the mid-1800s.

Check out the great work Kim Hawley Creative has done updating the museum's website!
10/01/2019

Check out the great work Kim Hawley Creative has done updating the museum's website!

#transformationtuesday: The Arabia Steamboat Museum has been a River Market, Kansas City, attraction for more than 25 years, visited by tens of thousands of people every year. The owners were looking for a cleaner and more streamlined website that would be easier to navigate. Their new website highlights everything the museum has to offer while feeling spacious and modern. See the before and after below, and visit the website at www.1856.com.

Charles Garside was among the youngest passengers on the Arabia, being just 6 months of age at the time of the sinking (...
09/27/2019

Charles Garside was among the youngest passengers on the Arabia, being just 6 months of age at the time of the sinking (these photos show him about two years after the sinking and then in his twenties). The Garside family was traveling on the Arabia to their new home in Nebraska City, Nebraska. Charles later relocated to Atchison, Kansas and operated a grocery store there. When Gale “Dad” Henson attempted to excavate the Arabia in 1897, Charles visited the dig and even received some children’s shoes as a keepsake.

Steamboat Arabia & Malta Featured In Shipwreck Documentary There is a relatively new network available for people who lo...
09/22/2019
CuriosityStream - Stay curious

Steamboat Arabia & Malta Featured In Shipwreck Documentary

There is a relatively new network available for people who love learning and documentaries about a host of engaging topics. The network is called, Curiosity Stream. Started by the founder of the Discovery Channel, John Hendricks, the Curiosity Stream network launched in 2015. This is a subscription video-on-demand streaming service that delivers documentaries about science, technology, nature and history. Amazon Prime members have partial access to a selection of its programs. Comcast, YouTube TV, and Starhub offer international distribution of its programs. It’s available here in the USA by simply signing on for a year subscription for about $20.

A video team from Curiosity Stream began filming a story about the steamboat Arabia and the Malta this past spring. It’s finally available for viewing as it just debuted this week. The documentary is called, Cornfield Shipwreck. The episode lasts about 40 minutes with archival footage from the steamboat Arabia excavation and a jet boat ride across flooded farm fields to find the site of the sunken steamboat Malta (1841).

Just sign up first. https://curiositystream.com

NOTE: Look for the FREE 7-day trial option when you first sign up.

Watch award-winning science, technology, history and nature documentaries, worldwide, on-demand and available on multiple devices.

A final report about yesterday’s visit by appraiser Tim Gordon, who along with Arabia excavator David Hawley, spoke with...
09/19/2019
Appraiser from 'Antiques Roadshow' hired to value Steamboat Arabia artifacts

A final report about yesterday’s visit by appraiser Tim Gordon, who along with Arabia excavator David Hawley, spoke with Kelly Eckerman KMBC about the importance of the collection and the future of the museum.
"You pull back that curtain, and bang, you are in 1856. I've never had a reality check like examining these artifacts," Gordon said. The question is: How do you put a price tag on history? "Can you give it a ballpark (figure?)" KMBC's Kelly Eckerman asked. "No, I just got here. Give me some time," Gordon said. The appraisal will take months. The museum's owner is looking at possible ways to raise money to expand, such as fundraising, grants or a legacy fund. The Steamboat Arabia Museum's lease in the River Market runs out in 2026. The final appraisal will make a difference on what happens next.”

The museum is looking to expand in a new home.

One of the most common questions we are asked concerns the value of the artifacts recovered from the Arabia. We’re looki...
09/19/2019
Arabia Steamboat's appraisal could dictate future of River Market museum

One of the most common questions we are asked concerns the value of the artifacts recovered from the Arabia. We’re looking at getting an answer to this question as part of our preparations for expanding and relocating the museum, which will happen after 2026. This is why we’ve asked appraiser Tim Gordon to examine the collection, hear some more of his thoughts in this report from KCTV5 News Kansas City
“The price tag Gordon attaches to the collection could help dictate the future of the museum. Hawley is looking to expand and add artifacts from five other riverboat wrecks. There is not enough display space in City Market for extra exhibits.”

We’ll soon find out how much Kansas City’s most famous buried treasure is worth.

Address

400 Grand Blvd
Kansas City, MO
64106

Take the KC Streetcar to the City Market stop at 5th & Walnut. Walk across 5th Street to enter the market square. The museum is located on the east side of the City Market.

Opening Hours

Monday 10:00 - 17:00
Tuesday 10:00 - 17:00
Wednesday 10:00 - 17:00
Thursday 10:00 - 17:00
Friday 10:00 - 17:00
Saturday 10:00 - 17:00
Sunday 12:00 - 17:00

Telephone

(816) 471-1856

Website

Alerts

Be the first to know and let us send you an email when Arabia Steamboat Museum posts news and promotions. Your email address will not be used for any other purpose, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Contact The Museum

Send a message to Arabia Steamboat Museum:

Videos

Category

Nearby museums


Comments

As Sultana Disaster Museum adds items to its collection, plans are being finalized to raise money to build out a bigger location.
Who might be interested in forming an Arabia Admirers group to help keep this magnificent museum home in Kansas City? I have briefly spoken with Dave Hawley about this subject and he is open to the possibility. Leave a comment here if you’re interested and we can look into this a little further.
Idea. Plan a dig of another steamboat and pitch it as a show on the History Channel. Curse of Oak Island style. They don't find crap. You will find stuff. Way more exciting of a show.
There is, or at least there used to be, a photograph in the entrance to the museum that shows a satellite image of the discover location of the Arabia, in the field where it was uncovered. Could someone please post that image? For many years after the dig, you could still see the dig area impression in the field. Today's google satellite image shows no trace of the dig site. Thank you!
Have visited here several times and will be bringing my grandson!
My boyfriend and I plan to come on Saturday. I am in a wheelchair. Is there a ramp, etc to get into your building?
Candy Spilman and whoever else , we still doing this soon ?
Condolences to the family. He seemed like a great and gentle man.
So sad to hear the news of Bob Hawley's death. What a great man he was. Your museum is the #1 KC attraction in my opinion.
Review from Dwell Kansas City...
What are the holiday hours? Will be in town for a wedding and it's looking like Dec 31 is the only day we'll be able to visit. Thanks. (Love it...I recommend it to everyone. Excited for my 7 year old to experience it).
We are looking forward to the Arabia Steamboat Museum's booth at the University of Scouting this Saturday. If there is time, I want to hear about the new steamboat find.