The answer, however, might not be nearly so drastic or expensive. Instead of hosting bored kids with forgettable "science" exhibits, Union Station's solution could be as simple as redesigning the space ever so slightly to give adult tourists stuff they would gladly pay to see.
Let's bring back the glory years of Tom Pendergast and gangster kingpin Johnny Lazia and celebrate Kansas City's raucous past as a hotbed of gambling, bootleg liquor, "shake dancers" and goodtime girls by turning Science City into "Sin City." The City Stage theater could become a burlesque house like the old Folly. Station leaders could turn "Grandma's Boarding House" into a flophouse, with honest-to-goodness drunks stumbling out and Grandma inviting patrons to pull up a chair and join her for a swill of rotgut bourbon, brewed fresh each day at the working distillery exhibit over at "Hidden Treasures Cave."
The second-level "Mister E's Hotel" could be turned into a real working bawdy house, with an actress portraying legendary madam Annie Chambers escorting eager male customers up to a vintage Art Deco minisuite to watch actual prostitutes and massage workers give hands-on demonstrations of biologically accurate sexual techniques. Downstairs at "Mister E's Diner," a card shark rips off unsuspecting saps during a rigged poker game. At the "Crime Scene" (which replaces the "Crime Lab") patrons get pointers -- from convicted felons -- on how to rob a "patsy" or "fix" an election.
Sound like fun? At $50 a ticket, Union Station would be in the black in no time.