Evel Knievel Museum - Topeka, Kansas
The 13,000 sq ft Evel Knievel Museum in Topeka, Kansas is one of Kansas's newest major tourist attraction, having opened in June 2017. The museum is attached to Historic Harley-Davidson and its free Yesterday's Museum, which is devoted to motorcycles.
Your trip through the museum begins with some background on why the museum is in Topeka, rather than Robert Craig Knievel's hometown of Butte, Montana or Las Vegas (biggest reason: because the restoration of his iconic Mack Truck, "Big Red," was done here) and goes on to talk about Evel's early life.
A large part of the museum is devoted to the motorcycle jumps he made, with displays devoted to many of the jumps he attempted. The displays sometimes include videos of the jumps and always say if the jump was a success or not and include a skeleton showing the injuries on the particular jump. The jump displays are mostly following a timeline - we noticed the Snake River Canyon was not represented, but weren't surprised to discover that it has a whole room devoted to that jump, including the practice "cycle" he used.
One of the simplest things which I found interesting was a chronological list of his jumps, from 1965 to 1980. It lists 168 jumps (19 crashes) and asks visitors to tell them of other jumps which they may not have. A small plaque lists recently discovered Evel Knievel Jumps in Scottsdale, Arizona and Kansas City, Kansas. I would love to hear more about the Kansas City, Kansas jump as well.
It may seem at first that a lot of time is devoted to Evel Knievel's injuries, but he had literally hundreds of bone fractures and a large portion of his career was spent with him in hospitals, on crunches or in a wheelchair.
The first floor of the museum is actually built around the restored Big Red and it could not be driven out of the museum. There are several displays and a video devoted to its history and restoration.
The second floor of the museum has interactive exhibits and (my favorite) a huge display of the Evel Knievel licensed items which were the largest portion of his income: toys, games, bicycles, lunch boxes and even several slot machines.
Although some visitors will spend hours in the Evel Knievel Museum, I believe the typical visit will be between an hour and an hour and a half.
LS-10/17 copyright 2019 by Keith Stokes