Nature’s Fury: The Science of Natural Disasters

September 14, 2017 – February 23, 2018

Kansas City is prone to a wide range of natural disasters from tornadoes, heat waves, and drought to floods, ice storms, and earthquakes. The city is also in range of a once-active supervolcano that, if it erupts again, would dump ash on the metro. Visitors to Nature’s Fury will explore the science behind these natural disasters and how Kansas City has dealt with them. Other galleries of the exhibition include:

Engineering the Big Muddy

Since the 1940s, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation have built dams, reservoirs, and levees along the Missouri River Basin. Known as the Pick-Sloan Plan, the projects have succeeded in controlling flood waters and providing irrigation for farmlands. The re-engineered river basin has also meant lost ancestral land for some Native American tribes and altered habitat for fish and bird species.

Are You Prepared?

Floods, tornadoes, earthquakes, and extreme weather each require a different set of responses. Wall panels, videos, and an interactive quiz in the East Gallery will acquaint visitors with tips on how to prepare for and survive a variety of natural disasters.

This exhibition is made possible through funding from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and the Gridley Family Foundation.

Upcoming exhibitions:


It’s Alive

Frankenstein at 200: The Science Behind the Story

March 15 – August 31, 2018

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was first published anonymously in January 1818. The novel has become a classic of literature, the inspiration for numerous theatrical productions, and a cautionary tale of scientific hubris that continues to resonate today.  On the 200th anniversary of the novel’s publication, this exhibition explores the scientific influences on Shelley while writing her masterpiece, as well as the novel’s legacy both in the lab and in popular culture.

West Gallery: The Science Behind the Story

Visitors to the west gallery will explore 18th and early 19th century science that influenced Shelley while writing Frankenstein:

  • Electrical experiments of Luigi Galvani, Alessandro Volta, and Giovanni Aldini;
  • The writings of Erasmus Darwin;
  • The 1815 eruption of Mt. Tambora, Indonesia, which created a “year without a summer” in 1816 when Shelley wrote the first draft of her novel;
  • Polar explorations of Captain Cook and Constantine Phipps; and later Arctic expeditions by John Ross, William Edward Parry, James Ross, and John Franklin that were being planned while Shelley revised her novel.
  • A history of mountaineering with books and images on display from Horace-Bénédict de Saussure and Marc-Théodore Bourrit.

West Gallery Alcove: Mad Scientists of the Silver Screen

This gallery will feature movie posters from some of the more notable films featuring mad scientists 1926-1996.  The gallery will also include a taxonomy or “family tree” of mad scientists by category.  Exhibition viewers will have an opportunity to tell us who was left off the tree.

East Gallery: The Education of Victor Frankenstein

Before he created the monster that would make him famous, Victor Frankenstein was a university student with an interest in many different scientific subjects. This portion of the exhibition draws upon books in the Linda Hall Library’s History of Science Collection, including works by Robert Boyle, Andreas Vesalius, and Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier, to showcase some of the researchers who shaped Frankenstein’s thinking.


The Flying Machine: A History of Early Aviation

Opens September 13, 2018

When Orville and Wilbur Wright flew their plane at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, in December 1903, transportation moved at a slow pace. Railroad steam engines, automobiles, and steamboats averaged from 5 to 20 miles per hour. But within a generation of the Wright Brother’s invention, aviation had developed into transatlantic flights and forever changed the social, cultural, and economic fabric of the world. Visitors to the exhibition, The Flying Machine: A History of Early Aviation, will explore the beginnings of heavier-than-air flight from the mid-19th century to the development of the U.S. aviation industry in the 1920s.



Exhibition galleries and the William N. Deramus III Cosmology Theater are open Monday – Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and the Second Saturday of each month from 10:00 a.m. to  2:00 p.m. Admission and parking are free for Library visitors. Advance registration is not required.

Saturday openings for 2018:

April 14 July 14  October 13
February 10 May 12 August 11 November 10
March 10 June 9 September 8 December 8

Reference, research, and circulation services are not available on Second Saturdays.


  • Due to inclement weather in the Kansas City area, the Library will be closed today.