The Hallmark Visitor Center is a free museum open to the public that tells the history of the Hallmark company. In addition to providing guests an opportunity to learn about the history of greeting cards and the Hallmark company, the Hallmark Visitor Center displays a fascinating collection of visual art. Some was commissioned for greeting cards and others which were purchased from artists who worked for the company over the years. One of the most unusual parts of this collection is a set of 13 original works created by Salvador Dali.
In the 1940s, Hallmark founder J.C. Hall began using the works of famous artists as the covers for greeting cards. Hall wrote in his autobiography that, “through the ‘unsophisticated art’ of greeting cards, the world’s greatest masters were shown to millions of people who might otherwise not have been exposed to them.” Hallmark printed greeting cards featuring the work of artists including Pablo Picasso, Paul Cezanne, Paul Gauguin, Vincent Van Gogh, and Georgia O’Keefe. The company even began to commission artists to create work intended for greeting cards—Grandma Moses, Norman Rockwell, and even Winston Churchill (who became a somewhat famous painter in his later years) were commissioned to create greeting card covers.
In 1948, Hallmark hired Salvador Dali to design a series of greeting card covers. Dali produced several images, but his designs were seen as too avant-garde and only two of the 1948 designs were ever used. Although Dali’s cards were not big sellers, the company hired him again in 1959 to design a completely new set of greeting cards. Besides Christmas-themed designs, Dali painted images for Valentine’s Day, Easter, and Mother’s Day. Of these newer images, only three were ever printed. Two of Dali’s works for the series, “Christmas Tree of Butterflies” and “Easter Angel” are on display at the Hallmark Visitor Center.
In addition to browsing works of Salvador Dali and other artists, visitors can watch a short movie about Hallmark founder J.C. Hall, see J.C. Hall’s famous Christmas tree collection, view a massive collection of Hallmark Keepsake ornaments, take a selfie with Barbie, and snap a photo holding an actual Emmy Award. For a souvenir, visitors can take home a miniature bow made in a bow-making machine. In addition, during the Hallmark Live presentations that happen during the noon hour on most weekdays, visitors are given an opportunity to meet with and discuss with a writer, illustrator, designer, photographer, or sculptor and learn how these artists contribute to the creation of a greeting card.
Update as of April 2022: The center is temporarily closed.
Know Before You Go
The Hallmark Visitors Center is located at 2450 Grand Blvd, Kansas City, Missouri. It’s located on the east side of the Crown Center Complex, one mile south of downtown Kansas City, Mo. From Crown Center’s parking garage, 2450 Grand Blvd., take the elevator to the third level of the Crown Center Shops. The Visitors Center is free and three-hour parking is free with validation.