Earlier today while scrolling through pins on Pinterest and enjoying my morning coffee, I stumbled upon a pin that leads me to Travel & Leisure’s Best U.S. Cities for Affordable Getaways. I wasn’t surprised to find that Kansas City, Missouri took top honors. I know you might be thinking, “Really, you weren’t surprised?” You might also wonder what is going on in Kansas City besides the Cardinals most recent dance at the World Series! Well, the reason why I wasn’t surprised is that I recently visited Kansas City for a business meeting. At first, I didn’t think there was anything special about the city when I stepped off the plane because the airport seemed like it was TV set from the 1990s show Wings. Upon checking into my hotel, I quickly learned that Kansas City is known as the City of Fountains, home of the National World War I Museum and the home of Hallmark. I also was informed that Independence, Missouri was only about a half hour away which was the home of President Truman which meant there were another Presidential home and museum to visit. Unfortunately, my stay in Kansas City was brief, so I only had a couple of hours to sightsee, so I decided to head downtown and check out the Hallmark Visitors Center and visit my favorite characters like hoops & yoyo and Maxine.
After traveling quite a bit, I love that I often have the best times at the places that I never initially thought of visiting. The Hallmark Visitors Center is one of those locations. I guess I was just expecting to see a lot of their favorite cards, but it was so much more. After passing through the lobby and lounge that paid tribute to the anniversaries of Hallmark and Hallmark’s programming, I picked up a guide to assist me on my self-tour which was free.
I started the journey in a corridor that had a portrait of Joyce Clyde Hall and a Hallmark Art Collection on the right and a timeline exhibit of more than 100 years of Hallmark history on the left. Joyce Clyde Hall was the founder of Hallmark Cards and the architect of the greeting card industry. Next to Hall’s portrait was the work of several well-known artists that graced the covers of Hallmark cards including Norman Rockwell and Sir Winston Churchill. Who knew that Churchill painted landscapes and his work was on greeting cards?
The timeline was unbelievable and was both a trip down memory lane and educational. Arranged by decades, samples of Hallmark products, as well as press clippings, photographs, awards and other memorabilia, were displayed against a backdrop of world events and social trends including newspaper clippings and period toys.
One thing that I thought was interesting at the time was learning that in the 1970s, Joyce Hall received the Eisenhower Medallion in recognition of his contribution to world peace through his efforts with the People to People program. That fact is even more fascinating now, considering my son will be a student ambassador for People to People next summer!
After I had finished enjoying the timeline, I checked out the Presidential Christmas cards and an exhibit titled Hallmark School Days. Displayed were several lunch boxes from yesteryear.
The Hallmark Channel offers the 24-hour destination for family-friendly programming and Hallmark-produced original movies. The Hallmark Movie Channel launched in 2008 as a companion network to the Hallmark Channel. The Hallmark Hall of Fame exhibit included an actual Emmy and memorabilia from recent productions including Christmas with Holly that premiered a year ago and is currently running this holiday season again. It was exciting to see the Christmas with Holly exhibit because of my friend’s twin daughters, Lucy and Josie Gallina played Holly. They also play Emily Schroeder in Boardwalk Empire.
I ventured into the Hallmark Keepsake Ornaments exhibit after enjoying my time in the Hall of Fame. When Hallmark introduced its first Hallmark Keepsake Ornaments in 1973, they had no idea what a phenomenon ornament collecting would become. Apparently, the exhibit featured their most popular ornaments, but what was fascinating was the biographies of some of the artist. I have enjoyed art since I was a young child and was amazed at some of the artist backgrounds. As I read their experiences, I found myself remembering being steered away from art when I was considering careers in college. I guess my advisors weren’t aware of the career opportunities at Hallmark.
The manufacturing part of the tour also had me reminiscing down memory lane because my family uses to be in the printing business. As I watched the production process, I couldn’t help think of my late grandfather who spent his days in the shop of Scofield’s Quality Printers.
I wrapped up my tour in the Hallmark International exhibition. Across the globe in more than 100 countries and 30 languages, people care enough to send the very best.
Getting the inside scoop on a company that has been around my whole life turned out to be a fun and educational way to spend the little free time I had on my business trip. Hallmark is known for bringing people together, and it was incredible to learn how J.C.Hall’s two shoeboxes of postcards in Kansas City has grown steadily into one of the world’s most creative companies.
What is your favorite company tour?