DESCRIPTION: One of America’s most comprehensive general art museums, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art features 34,500 items spanning more than 5,000 years. Completed in 1933, this magnificent stone neoclassical structure houses pieces ranging from ceramic objects found in ancient Chinese tombs to whimsical sculptures of badminton birdies. A $200 million expansion and renovation project expanded the museum by 71 percent with the addition of the Bloch Building in June 2007.
ADDRESS: 4525 Oak St., Kansas City, Mo.
WEB SITE: www.nelson-atkins.org
HOURS: Open 10 a.m.-5p.m., Wed. 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Thur.-Fri., 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sat.-Sun.
Closed Mondays and Tuesdays. The Museum is also closed on New Year’s Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas.
ADMISSION: Free. There may be a charge for special exhibitions.
ANNUAL ATTENDANCE: 500,000 annually.
HISTORY: Established through the trusts of two Kansas Citians—newspaper publisher William Rockhill Nelson and teacher Mary McAfee Atkins—the museum first opened on Dec. 11, 1933. Unlike most major museums, The Nelson-Atkins holdings were not developed from existing collections of art. With the Nelson Trust and the economics of the Depression however, the museum was able to quickly build a strong and expansive collection that has continued to grow ever since. The museum’s early hiring of Chinese art expert Laurence Sickman led to the flourishing of a vibrant and widely recognized Asian art collection.
WHERE TO GET LUNCH: Called “the prettiest museum café in the Midwest” by Travel Holiday magazine, the museum’s Rozzelle Court Restaurant is fashioned after an open-air Italian courtyard and offers buffet-style service of gourmet main dishes, salads, soups, breads and desserts.
WHAT’S NEARBY: The Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art houses striking pieces by artists like Georgia O’Keeffe and Andy Warhol. Shopping and art collide at the nearby Country Club Plaza; Spanish-style towers, ornate statues and whimsical fountains complement the district’s offering of more than 180 shops and restaurants.
WHAT’S NEW: In 2007, The Nelson-Atkins completed its first expansion since opening in 1933. The Steven Holl-designed Bloch Building adds the equivalent of a 67-story building lying on its side. The renovation of the 73-year-old original museum building, the reinstallation of its encyclopedic collection and a Sculpture Park expansion were also major components of the $200-million campus transformation.
DID YOU KNOW: Painted by influential Italian artist Caravaggio, one of the Museum’s greatest treasures is Saint John the Baptist in the Wilderness. The masterpiece is one of only a few original works by Caravaggio in American collections.
DON’T FORGET: The museum has late hours on Fridays. Open until 9 p.m., The Nelson-Atkins features live music and special art programming.
GROUP TOURS: Groups of 10 or more may schedule a free docent-led tour of the Museum’s collections. Group tours must be scheduled two weeks in advance and can be designed around special topics upon request.
PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION: Take the MAX to the Art Museums stop.
From the north: Take I-35 South to Hwy 71 South. Exit at Emanuel Cleaver II Boulevard. Turn right on Emanuel Cleaver II Boulevard and then right on Oak Street. The parking garage entrance is on Oak Street, just north of the museum building.
From the west: Take I-70 East to I-670 East. Exit at I-35 South. Exit again at Southwest Trafficway from the left lane. Travel south for several blocks and then turn left on Emanuel Cleaver II Boulevard. Turn left on Oak Street. The parking garage entrance is on Oak Street, just north of the museum building.
From the east: Take I-70 West and exit at I-35 South. Exit again at Southwest Trafficway from the left lane. Travel south for several blocks and then turn left on 47th Street, which becomes Emanuel Cleaver II Boulevard. Turn left on Oak Street. The parking garage entrance is on Oak Street, just north of the museum building.
From the south: Take I-35 North. Exit at Shawnee Mission Parkway/Highway 50. Take a right and head east. Continue on the same road which will become Ward Parkway and then Volker Boulevard. Turn left on Oak Street. The parking garage entrance is on Oak Street, just north of the museum building.
PARKING: Entrance to the parking garage is on the west side of The Nelson-Atkins Building on Oak Street. Parking is $5.
PUBLIC RELATIONS CONTACT: Kathleen Leighton, communications and media officer, 816-751-1278 or firstname.lastname@example.org.