Kansas City’s Nelson-Atkins Art Museum is a treasure cove…and it’s free. From ancient Egypt to contemporary art, the Nelson-Atkins is home to more than 35,000 pieces of art. It’s one of the best museums we’ve visited.
The museum has an easy layout, which allows visitors to move freely among the exhibits. If contemporary art is your thing, then you can just stay in the Bloch Building, near the garage entrance.
The Nelson-Atkins building – home to the majority of exhibits – offers two floors of Egyptian, European, African, and Asian art, as well as early American and Native American.
The contemporary section has quite a collection of pieces. A piece resembling a messenger bag is actually made from clay. It’s very realistic.
A modern piece takes a look at food in America.
A chance meeting is portrayed as an older man meets two people for a conversation.
Also in the gallery was a large silver egg hanging from the ceiling. East Indian artist Subodh Gupta created the piece using everyday Indian cooking and serving wares.
Negro League Baseball is featured in a piece resembling a baseball field. It represents legendary pitcher Satchel Paige’s role in baseball history.
An African art gallery featured a lot of interesting pieces. I found a chief’s crown featuring birds interesting.
Following our walk through the contemporary galleries, we checked out the older art in the building.
Sculptures were prevalent in the entry way and the landing atop the staircase.
A special exhibit featuring World War I and the rise of Realism looks at the art styles before, during and post-World War I.
The museum is home to one of the 60 pieces of “Water Lilies” by Claude Monet. The painting was created in the 1920s. This – too me – shows what a world-class museum the Nelson-Atkins is.
The museum has an exhibit of sitting or waiting rooms from earlier time periods.
We checked out some early British tea sets. Interesting.
I liked the knight display in the medieval art area.
The museum has a small stained glass window collection. Is there anything more beautiful than the art displayed on stained glass?
Lisa and I had a debate over a display of two casket covers from Spain. She said they reminded her of Han Solo being frozen in one of the “Star Wars” movies. I said the knight’s design on the cover reminded me of the knight in “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.” Thoughts?
A section featuring religious artifacts was fascinating. A cross used in the 16th century stood out among the items.
A statue of Madonna was interesting to me. It was made from limestone.
Moving on to the Roman area, busts of former leaders and others stood out. A bust of Caracalla is on display. He was said to be one of the most emotionally disturbing emperors.
A coffin cover revealed beautiful, detailed artistry representing the Nine Muses.
Taking a step further back into history, we checked out some Egyptian mummy pieces.
A display of small mummy moldings caught our eye. They looked like Oscars from the Academy Awards. I announced the winner of the best Mummy-related song to be Steve Martin (“King Tut”) and the winner of the best Mummy as the mummy from the remake of “The Mummy.”
The Native American art collection is dominated by Alaskan tribes. The pieces of display were amazing! From carvings to a Shaman’s robe, the display was respectful of the Native culture.
I liked a long headdress on display from the Northern Cheyenne tribe.
Early American art featured a chest that Lisa thought had evil eyes. She thought the top of the chest resembled faces.
We fell in love with the Asian art collection. The pieces were beautiful and interesting to check out. The section had so much to see. I felt like we could take hours in this area by itself.
The museum has a huge Buddha on display.
I loved the gate exhibit, with lions on either side.
The display that stood us to was an Asian sculpture. The statue – Guanyin of the Southern Sea – looked beautiful, with an Asian mural behind it. The piece was created sometime in the 11th to 12th century.
While this was our first visit inside the museum, we have been to the Nelson-Atkins’ sculpture garden. The 22-acre park is home to more than 30 sculptures. The best known pieces are probably the giant badminton shuttlecocks. Perhaps one of the most iconic Kansas City photos is of the shuttlecock with the Nelson-Atkins building behind it. The artist was Claes Oldenburg.
We have a few other favorites. Among them are “Rush Hour” by George Segal, “Ferment” by Roxy Paine and “Standing Figures” by Magdalena Abakanowicz.
The museum hosts special exhibits that are on display for a short time, including “American Soldier.” It’s a photo exhibit of military-related features, beginning with the Civil War. The free exhibit is at the Nelson-Atkins until June 21. It’s definitely worth the visit.
Some special exhibits may have an admission fee attached to them.
We spent almost four hours touring the museum. It’s easy to see how people can spend a day at the Nelson-Atkins. We took a break about midway and split a snack in the museum café. It’s very reasonably priced. We had two sodas and a croissant for about $10.
The café’s tables encircle one of the old water fountains in Kansas City – known as the City of Fountains. It dates to 200 AD. It wasn’t originally a fountain. The fountain is surrounded by the 12 zodiac symbols.
Whatever your interest, we believe you’ll find something to truly enjoy during a visit to the museum. We recommend visiting the Nelson-Atkins Museum.
For more information on the museum, please visit www.nelson-atkins.org.