There are several free parking options within walking distance from the History Museum on the Square and Fox Theatre. The closest free parking option is two-hour parking located at the corner of Olive St. and Boonville Ave.
The museum has a self-serve coatrack available to visitors.
Visitors of all ages are welcome in the museum. There are many interactive areas for children including a dress-up station, games, hands-on items, and an I-spy.
Yes, you can! Have your hand stamped when you leave for readmission on the same day.
ADA Service Animals are welcome in the History Museum. Under ADA, a service animal is “a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability. The task(s) performed by the dog must be directly related to the person's disability.” Other pets and animals whose sole purpose is to provide emotional support or comfort are not considered ADA Service Animals and are therefore not allowed in the museum.
The average visitor spends about 1.5 hours, however with many hands-on activities and short films in the museum’s galleries, time spent in the museum can vary.
The museum does not sell food or drinks. Water bottles are allowed in the museum. Other food and beverages are not allowed.
There are many restaurants and cafes nearby within walking distance.
The minimum age for children to visit alone is 16.
Yes, the museum is accessible. An elevator can take visitors to all levels. The museum’s videos are designed with open captions. The museum has a wheelchair onsite available on a first-come-first-served basis.
If you are a member of the History Museum on the Square, you have reciprocal benefits as part of the Time Travelers Association. That will give you discounts on admission at other reciprocal locations if you show your membership card. You can find other locations at: https://timetravelers.mohistory.org/institutions/
History Museum on the Square members receive admission for a full year, a subscription to our newsletter, advance notice of special events, 10% discount in the museum gift shop, access to member-only receptions, and reciprocal benefits through Time Traveler’s Association for history museums.
Group rates are available for a group of 10 or more paying visitors. School and youth groups should be set up two weeks in advance. Private groups must be arranged at least three days in advance. For more information, please visit the Group Reservation page.
Yes. School and youth groups should be set up two weeks in advance. Private groups must be arranged at least three days in advance. For more information, please visit the Group Reservation page.
The museum is a self-guided museum allowing you to visit at your own pace. Volunteers are stationed throughout the museum to answer questions and assist visitors. Guided tours are available for groups booking their visit in advance. For more information, please visit the Group Reservation page.
The museum does have a gift shop on-site with a range of items for sale including books, postcards, mugs, and plush animals.
You can purchase gift certificates at the front desk. You can buy any dollar amount that you’d like and the receiver will be able to put it toward tickets, memberships, and gift shop items. We also have gift tickets available for purchase at the front desk.
Please call, email, or stop by the museum. Found items will be stored at the museum for 30 days.
Video cameras and photography are permitted in the museum for personal, noncommercial use only. You are invited to share photos and memories of your museum visit with other fans. Public use of tripods, monopods, and selfie sticks are not permitted. News photographers and videographers need to make arrangements beforehand.
Please complete the Photo Order Form and Image Use Agreement. Step-by-step instructions are listed on this order form.
You will need the photo’s accession number and Location (Collection name, Box number, and folder number). These can be found and our photo archive can be searched at http://archives.historymuseumonthesquare.org/. Please be as specific as possible when requesting an image. Once the photos have been chosen and recorded, please indicate the resolution, format, quantity, and intended use on the photo order form. Submit completed Photo Order Form and Image Use Agreement to the museum Archivist in person or via email.
The History Museum on the Square offers the general public, scholars, and researchers the opportunity to purchase high-resolution digital images of materials in our archive. Image fees support the History Museum on the Square in its mission to preserve and exhibit the diverse history of Springfield and Greene County. All fees are for high resolution, publication-quality digital image files. Payment is non-refundable.
Depending on the type of item you’d like to donate, please contact our Curator (for 3D objects) or Archivist (for documents, photographs, and other paper items) to schedule a time to meet and determine if your item would fit into our collection.
The museum is a private nonprofit organization that operates on admission revenue, donations, and grants.
Local History Questions
The shoot-out between Wild Bill Hickok and Davis Tutt happened on Springfield's Public Square on July 21, 1865. Documented as the first shoot-out in the Old West, visitors to the museum can look out of the Wild Bill Hickok Gallery windows and see where this historic event took place. There are markers in the street identifying where they stood. Wild Bill Hickok was standing near the entrance to South Avenue (currently near the Missouri State University building) on the southeast corner of the Square. Davis Tutt was standing near the Court House (now the Heer's Building) on the northwest corner of the Square close to College Street.
Originally on the footprint of this building was General Smith's Tavern, the first stop on the early Butterfield Overland Stage line on September 17, 1858. Nathan's Clothing Co. was built to replace the tavern in the 1880s. After the tragic fire on the NE quadrant of the Square in 1913, Nathan's was rebuilt. In 1930, that building became Barth's Men's Department Store. Barth's closed in 1981, was sold, and became a restaurant and bar for several years.
The History Museum on the Square acquired use of the historic building in 2008. The Board and Staff spent nearly ten years planning and designing the future museum, restoring the building and adjacent property before opening up the permanent galleries in the new History Museum on the Square in 2019.
The History Museum on the Square started as a 1976 bicentennial project of the Greene County Historical Society to temporarily display the city’s history. The first museum, located in a storefront on College Street, displayed artifacts and photos that individuals and the Springfield Art Museum donated. The Art Museum had collected historical artifacts over the years, and the exhibit was very popular and remained open even after the bicentennial.
By 1978, the museum had outgrown the building and moved to the Bentley House on Drury University’s campus. In 1992, the History Museum moved again to the third floor of Old City Hall with a permanent exhibit. Catherine “Kitty” Cox Lipscomb was the first Board President of the museum, and Julie Hammon March served as museum executive director and curator over the years. In 2005, the very first blockbuster exhibit about Springfield’s baseball history was displayed. In 2007, staff, board members, and volunteers led by John Sellars, Mary Haseltine McQueary, Rick McQueary, and Andrew Baird began looking for a larger, more prominent location for the future expanded museum.
The History Museum acquired the use of the Barth’s Building in 2008, the Sherwood Building in 2012, and the Fox Theatre in 2013 on Springfield’s historic Square. The Barth’s Building was used as the location of another blockbuster exhibit and fundraising event featuring the history of the Frisco Railroad in 2008 before the complete restoration began. While the museum was located in the Fox Theatre, total interior renovations began in the Barth’s and adjacent Sherwood buildings to create the new History Museum on the Square, which opened in August of 2019.
Springfield was on the famous Northern Route of the Trail of Tears which was the December of 1837 pathway of the very first group on that tragic journey. The National Park Service placed the Trail of Tears markers along the routes where the Cherokee and other southeastern tribes were forced to cross the US to Indian Territory. The trail through Springfield essentially follows the former Missouri Pacific Railroad from the eastern side of Springfield southwest toward the location of Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield. Segments are seen on Ozark Greenways.
It was first opened in 1916 as the Electric. Then in 1930, the Electric was bought by Paramount who owned the theatre for 4 years before the Fox Theatre chain took over operation of the theater. Disaster struck in 1946 when a fire destroyed a large portion of the theater. The theater was closed for 2 years to renovate. The Electric reopened as The Fox and kept the name until it closed in 1982.