Things To Do in Kansas City: Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

This premier Kansas City art museum is a must-see attraction for any visitor to the city.

Conveniently located a few blocks from the popular Country Club Plaza shopping district, Kansas City’s Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art provides a world-class collection of more than 33,000 art objects from around the world that spans centuries. Any visit to Kansas City simply must include this landmark museum.

The Nelson-Atkins Grounds and Architecture

The Nelson-Atkins aesthetic experience begins long before one even enters the enormous, but elegant buildings. Majestically situated on more than 20 acres of land, one can take in an impressive view of sprawling manicured grounds from the museum steps, stroll among the outdoor sculpture park, or gaze into the massive reflecting pool.

The main building is neo-classical beauty. Opened in 1933, this impressive limestone structure boasts a central hall reaching 40 ft. tall and is home to several of the museum’s collections, as well as the gorgeous Italian-courtyard-style Rozelle Court Restaurant.

The museum’s second building opened just in 2007, is the Bloch Building, an extension off of the main Nelson-Atkins building. A complementary contemporary structure, the Bloch Building is particularly lovely to view in the evening when the gallery lights illuminate the entire building.

Even the museum’s parking structure is an interesting venue! A large reflecting pool, which features thirty-four circular windows at the bottom of the pool, allows soothing, pulsing sunlight to reflect into the parking structure built beneath it.

World-Class Collections at the Nelson-Atkins

Of course, most visitors come to view what the museum has on display inside. More than a dozen permanent collections ranging from ancient art to contemporary offer thousands of exquisite pieces, while several temporary exhibits mean there is always something new on display, even for repeat guests.

The recently expanded American Indian collection is housed in 6,000 square feet of exhibit space, making it among the largest of galleries dedicated to American Indian art. Visitors will enjoy the handiwork of several different tribes, including Navajo and Pueblo textiles.

The Ancient Art collection features pieces from the 4th millennium B.C.E. up to the 5th century C.E. Visitors can take in remarkable stone figures, carvings, vases, jewelry, and more from ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome.

Those who appreciate modern and contemporary art will find the 1900-1945 collection in the Nelson-Atkins building and the post-1945 collection in the Bloch Building. Featuring works by Kandinsky, Duchamp, Calder, Rothko, Rauschenberg, and many others, the contemporary collections offer paintings, sculpture, and multi-media works.

Though one visit to the Nelson-Atkins is never enough, if a traveler has an hour or two to spare, this museum should be at the top of the list. Check out the museum’s website for hours and more information to plan a visit.

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