No matter the weather outside, museums are the perfect activity to keep you busy during every season. Learn more about Liberty through the last 200 years with the help of the Clay County Museum, Jesse James Bank Museum and the Liberty Jail! Each one offering a different snippet of Liberty’s interesting history.
Clay County Museum
Before the current form of the Clay County Museum existed, there was the Clay County Historical Society. This society was formed in 1934 by community leaders that wanted to preserve local history. In 1963 the Clay County Historical Society and Museum was created.
This three-story building is full of amazing artifacts showcasing the history of Clay County ranging from the 1790s to present day. Everything in the museum has been donated or is on-loan from individuals in Clay County. Located at 14 N. Main St., this museum is open Monday – Friday 1 – 4 p.m. and Saturdays 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Along with being open to the public, the museum also offers virtual tours for those unable to attend in person.
Throughout the year, the Clay County Historical Society & Museum also hosts a series of events. Typically starting in May, the events will run through November. The museum also holds Third Thursday Programs in which guest speakers come to discuss various historical topics pertaining to Liberty.
For the best experience, museum volunteers recommend starting from the very top floor and working your way down to the basement for the grand finale!
For more information about the Clay County Historical Society & Museum and to stay up to date on upcoming events, visit their website!
Jesse James Bank Museum
Located on the downtown Liberty square, the Jesse James Bank Museum is the site of America's first daylight bank robbery during peace time, a crime attributed to the notorious Jesse James and the James Gang. History buffs will enjoy walking through Bank room as it was in 1866 when the event took place, with period furnishings filling the room to give visitors an immersive experience. Along with this, the museum features a rare Seth Thomas clock that’s set for the exact time the crime took place. The tour takes you through the steps the Jesse Gang took on February 13, 1866.
While roaming the museum, visitors are able to look into the original vault while hearing the story of how the robbery took place. Guests will leave feeling as though they experienced the event themselves.
The bank opened in 1858 as the Clay County Savings Association. After the robbery, the bank couldn’t make up the money lost ($60,000) and ended up closing. Within the museum is an area with bank related memorabilia that was donated by the family of the college student killed in the robbery, George Wymore.
The Jesse James Bank Museum is open Monday – Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is located at 103 N. Water St. The museum is closed during January and February and on all holidays, so make sure to check out their hours online before planning your trip!
For more information about the museum and how to purchase tickets, visit their Facebook page!
The Liberty Jail
Located at 216 N Main St., the Historic Liberty Jail Museum is a reconstruction of the original Liberty Jail and is housed within the Latter-Day Saint Visitor’s Center. The jail is where the Prophet Joseph Smith was once held in 1838 after he and five other individuals were falsely accused of treason and taken into custody.
The individuals were held at the original Liberty Jail until early April 1839. During his time in the jail, Smith and his jail mates dealt with extreme persecution and towards the end of this stay, Smith received a revelation from God that he ended up sending in a letter to the Saints.
The Liberty Jail is open year-round Monday – Saturday from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Sundays from 1 – 5 p.m. (with exceptions being Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day). Group tours are welcome and asked to submit a group reservation request online.
If you’re wanting to check out the Liberty Jail without leaving the comfort of your home, we’ve got you covered! The Liberty Jail offers virtual tours! To schedule your virtual tour, register online.
For more information, check out their website or visit their Facebook page to stay up to date on events, interesting facts and more!
Take advantage of the amazing, historical sites in Liberty and explore our local museums! Whether you’re a history buff or just looking for something to do, you can never go wrong with one of Liberty’s three museums!