#15 – Nelson Atkins Museum of Art
4525 Oak St, Kansas City, MO 64111
Features: Rozzelle Court restaurant, free group tours, interactive games, scavenger hunts, etc.
Good for: Everyone
Tip: Give yourself a few hours to wander the museum, it’s bigger than you think!
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art is truly a Kansas City gem. From ancient Chinese pottery to Native American artifacts to colorful Warhol works, the collection is all-encompassing. The museum is free to the public – giving everyone the opportunity to enjoy art. The Nelson Atkins also fosters a strong sense of community by hosting festivals, dances, talks, tours, classes and events.
The Nelson Atkins is located near the Kansas City Art Institute and The Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art.
The History of the Nelson Atkins
The dream of providing a public art museum for Kansas City was shared by two private individuals Mary Atkins and William Rockhill Nelson.
Mary Atkins became a widow within 10 years of being married to an affluent real estate speculator. She then traveled throughout Europe visiting the museums of the world. She longed to bring art to Kansas City, and left $300,000 to build an art museum.
William Rockhill Nelson, founder of The Kansas City Star, believed that a city needed art and culture to be truly civilized. He donated the bulk of his estate after his death, which was combined with Mary Atkins’ legacy.
Because the donors gave money rather than personal art collections, the curators were able to assemble a collection from scratch. At the time, (the height of the Great Depression) the market was full with pieces for sale. With very few buyers, the Nelson Atkins found the market open to them and within a short time frame, had one of the largest art collections in the country.
The Nelson Atkins opened to the public on Dec. 11, 1933.
Featured Works at the Nelson Atkins
The Nelson Atkins has 35,000 works of art including collections of:
- Native American
- South and Southeast Asian
- Architecture, Design and Decorative Arts
- Donald J. Hall Sculpture Park
Some of the public’s favorites:
Claes Oldenburg’s Shuttlecocks
Claude Monet’s Water Lilies
Dorothea Lange’s Migrant Mother
Georgia O’Keffe’s Apple Blossoms
Vincent Van Gogh’s Olive Trees
Egyptian Coffin of Meret-it-es
Claude Monet’s Mill at Limetz
Whether you have a master’s degree in art history or think your 5-year-old could draw better than Picasso, everyone can enjoy the Nelson Atkins. xx, Libbie.