Friday, April 26, 2013

Adventure in Kansas City: The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

We recently had the joy of visiting Kansas City, MO, for three days. While Ben was in work meetings, the kids and I explored the city. My only requirement for our outings were that they would be free and educational. It turned out that Kansas City has plenty to offer in either realm!

One of our favorite stops was the The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. As an art museum, this place is amazing, and that it was free was mind-boggling. The only cost was the parking garage, and that was well worth the $5 to walk right in and be greeted by the friendly staff. No walking blocks to arrive, and since we went during bad weather, the garage parking was an even greater blessing.

The first thing we did was visit the coat check. Yes, my kids are easily entertained. After checking Wyatt's coat, we went to the information desk, where we checked out free iPods to listen to the audio tour. They gave each of the kids one, and a headset. It was on a lanyard so we couldn't break it, and whenever we had troubles operating the unit, a nearby security guard was always helpful to figure it out. (Yes, we took advantage of this multiple times. lol!)

The museum had art collections spanning from ancient art to modern. It really covered it all. Categories included:
  • African
  • American
  • American Indian
  • Ancient
  • Chinese
  • Decorative Arts
  • European
  • Japanese
  • Donald J. Hall Sculpture Park
  • Modern & Contemporary
  • Photography
  • Prints
  • South & Southeast Asian
We spent the greatest time in the European collection, but really enjoyed it all. When the kids got a bit tired of being quiet and peacefully studying the galleries, we took a breather and walked around a bit on the grounds to see the sculpture park. Due to a late season snow storm we couldn't see much, but we really enjoyed seeing up close the Shuttlecocks and The Thinker

I wanted at first to name each of our favorite works. . . but there were too many. If I lived in Kansas City, I would be at this museum on a very regular basis, just to drink it all in. As it was, a day was not enough. My recommendations: 
  • Try and clear out a whole day for this one. We were there about 1/2 hour after it opened, and left only 15 minutes before the museum closed. We could have easily spent more time and still not have seen it all. 
  • Pack a lunch. Especially if the weather is nice, a picnic on the grounds is a great idea. We just took a break at our van and ate. We discovered the ipods still had a wifi signal there, and we listened to more audio tour clips while we ate. 
  • Wear good shoes. Lots of beautiful marble floors are not forgiving to the feet after a whole day. 
  • When you pick up your audio tour, grab several of the family gallery guides. They have fun activities for kids to complete in each gallery as well as extra info on exhibits and recommended reading lists.
This was a great day for us, and we hope to go again! With a price-tag of free, there's no reason not to whenever we are in Kansas city. 

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