Sunday, October 23, 2011

Hallmark Visitors Center - A Mixed Review

There are a number of free things to do in Kansas City. One of them includes going to the Hallmark Visitors Center where they'll promise you'll see exactly how cards are made.

Do they deliver? Do they get to wear the crown?

Sort of.

Is it worth it?

Sort of.

Let me put it this way -- if I had only a wee bit of time, I wouldn't bother. But if you're out shopping in Crown Center, you can whip through it in a half hour or less. It's kind of interesting and fun, especially if you prefer history over process.

The history is well displayed in showcases following decades, as well as showing a huge amount of the various cards and products produced by Hallmark over the years. The graphic descriptive info is brief but tells the story.

I grew up with Hallmark. This card is very similar to one I have from my grandparents that I received as a child. My parents always bought Hallmark cards, and while I don't so much now, they still come out with terrific cards.

And merchandising.

Their Hallmark Hall of Fame specials are always well done. There is a theatre where you can see segments of these as well as their tear-jerking commercials. (And yes, I've cried at Hallmark commercials). They also have a great collection of original art that appeared on their cards by famous artists like Grandma Moses (and Norman Rockwell and Winston Churchill!)

Most of us with Christmas trees have at least one Hallmark ornament -- you can see them all here, along with some of their vintage holiday home accessories.

And it was interesting to see the presidential cards.

This was Gerald Ford's. I thought it the prettiest of all of them.

So, in history and pleasing displays, I give the center high marks. But in "seeing how a card gets made" (which interests me tremendously), the marks aren't so great. One of the employees just seemed bored, once she hung up the phone to answer questions about die-cutting.

The displays were a little more helpful and I'll show them one after another in order.

I got excited when I saw a printing room behind glass.

Then I realized the room was a big mural and the presses only ran when a fellow came out to talk to folks.

I know a lot about printing, so I didn't ask him many questions, but those from the group there at the same time were well answered and enthusiastically. He showed them how the word "wife" was printed on a Valentine. He was knowledgeable, enthusiastic. But they could have shown so much more.

In addition to the video there were some fun interactive exhibits. The photo on the bow making machine didn't show well, but this is what turns out those bows we can buy at bulk at the holidays.

Press a button and you get to take home a bow.

I had enjoyed seeing some of the various Hallmark crowns that were made from year to year.

They also have a virtual crown photo spot. One stands there, looks at the camera and it "finds" your head and places a virtual crown on it.

So, back to the hotel I went, in Kansas City's lovely covered walkway, "The Link."

In some ways, it is art in itself, with its lovely angular design...

... and a great view.

Hallmark -- you get a mixed review. History: A- / Production: C- / Price? A+

NOTE #2: Visit "Chopsticks and String" for a look at the book "The Paris Wife."


Janet said...

I'm sure they're careful not to give away any secrets about how their cards are made. I used to buy Hallmark cards but seldom do anymore. I'd rather buy something a bit more "original" or make my own.

Jeanie said...

Well, since the price is right I think the tour would be fun and interesting since Hallmark is such an iconic company. I like that you gave so many details of your tour experience.

Dr. Kathy McCoy said...

I've always wondered how what that museum was like! Thanks for the virtual tour and review! I can see how the production part must have been frustrating for you since you have such interest in that. And your cards are the best!

Retired English Teacher said...

Wow, I thought that was all very interesting. Hallmark seems to outlived its moment in someways. It is rare to even get greeting cards these days. I still prefer a Hallmark card when I am buying, but I end up not going to the Hallmark store. This was great.

You look quite cute in your virtual crown.

Jennifer Richardson said...

I grew up with Hallmark too many memories!
Thanks for the share,

Barb said...

Oh, Jeanie, I did love that crown photo - worth the whole tour! I rarely buy cards anymore. I use my photos to make cards, though. Who knew that the Presidents use Hallmark?

Yolanda said...

I have wondered what it would be like to visit here. Thanks for the review and hoe you have a wonderful week.

Joanne Huffman said...

Thanks for the tour. Now I don't have to run off to Kansas City.

cindy said...

Thanks so much for the tour. I think everyone loves Hallmark cards and now we have an idea of how they are made.
I never knew there was a hallmark factory that you could tour. Maybe Kansas City will be on my list of places to visit.

I’m a follower

Nathalie Thompson said...

I haven't been there in YEARS and I live just an hour away! ha! The virtual crown is something new and looks like a fun feature. Love all of your photos! Truly a virtual tour!

Tracy said...

VERY interesting! I grew up with Hallmark too. And I had some of the pansy cards! I knew about the place, but didn't know there was a tour. I suspect your tour for us here is better, Jeanie! ;o) Happy Days ((HUGS))

Marilyn said...

When I was working I bought Hallmark cards all the time, but because I need to budget more closely I rarely go in there now. I either make the card or send an ecard. It would be interesting though.

shoreacres said...

This was really interesting. A friend's son was the art director there for a time - he's gone on to other things, now.

I just heard on radio the other day that Hallmark has come out with a new line of cards - for people who have been laid off or lost their job. Keeping up with the times, I suppose.

Dixie Rose loved Hallmark cards. She always sent one to Mom at Christmas, on Mother's Day and on her birthday. Mom just would say, "Crazy cat". ;)

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

Very interesting - I did not know they were hq'd in Kansas City. I grew up with hallmark cards, too. Their movies are always so good & i love their commercials (they make me cry, too!)

Thanks for the honest review!

Relyn said...

I was just checking in with you about the swap. I hope it was wonderful and encouraging. Thanks so much for playing along with year. I always have such a good time watching people make new friends.

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