Nelson Atkins Art Museum


We love visiting art museums in new cities and our recent trip to Kansas City was no exception.  The Nelson Atkins Art Museum houses over 40,000 works of art on permanent exhibits as well as amazing sculptures placed on the expansive grounds. During the summer months, you can even play mini golf on the Art Course in front of the Museum. There is definitely something here that will appeal to everyone.

This post includes affiliate links. Thanks to the Kansas City Chamber of Commerce for helping facilitate our tour of the Museum.

Visiting an art museum may seem like an overwhelming adventure for some families if you have never taken a tour like this. But you don’t have to be an art critic or know the history of the artists to be able to appreciate the amazing works of art on display.

The Museum Exhibits

Whether you are looking for the famous paintings by Monet or Caravaggio, there is something for everyone.

One of the great things about visiting art museums around the country is the opportunity to connect pieces of art and artists. When we visited the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC, we saw the Little Dancer Aged Fourteen (Edgar Degas). Then when we entered the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art we saw another piece by Edgar Degas.

Walking Wall

Walking Wall is a moving, ever changing stone wall that is moving from one end of the museum grounds to another. It is being built in five stages where artist Andy Goldsworthy and his crew of builders build each section of the wall by hand. They then come back in a few months and unbuild it stone by stone and rebuild it on the other end.

Walking Wall is now “resting.” Artist Andy Goldsworthy and his crew will return to Kansas City in July, and the wall will “move” on these dates:
July 15 to 24
September 9 to 18
November 11 to 20

Glass Labyrinth

Don’t miss the chance to wind your way through the Glass Labyrinth out in the front lawn of the Museum. It is not a maze where you have to find your path with lots of dead ends but one single path through the maze. You enter and exit through the same opening. Don’t be fooled by the clear glass. You can easily walk right into the glass if you are not paying attention.

Rozzelle Court Restaurant

Stop for a midday lunch or snack in the beautiful restaurant styled like a 15th-century Italian courtyard.

Art Course

Art Course at the Nelson-Atkins is an artist-designed, mini-golf experience located in the Donald J. Hall Sculpture Park in front of the Museum. Each of the holes has specific connections to a piece of art inside the Museum. **Check here for times and ticket information.

Badmitton Shuttlecock Sculpture

The most iconic sculptures at the Nelson-Atkins Museum are the four badminton birdies or shuttlecocks on the Museum grounds. Imagine that the Museum is a badminton net and the lawn a playing field. The shuttlecocks were placed as though they had just landed on opposite sides of the net. Each shuttlecock weighs 5,500 pounds, stands nearly 18 feet tall and has a diameter of some 16 feet.

One Sun, 34 Moons

When we parked in the garage we noticed sun lights in the roof of the garage and they seemed to shimmer like they were underwater. We didn’t connect those circular openings to a piece of art until we were touring the grounds and found the reflecting pool.

A black reflecting pool containing 34 asymetrically placed circular skylights and a gold-leaf rectangle that is slightly vaulted. Gold leaf over bronze and stainless steel substructure, reflecting pool, neon illuminated sky lights.

One Sun, 34 Moons Walter De Maria 

Things to Know:

  • Admission is FREE everyday!
  • Parking is available in the garage ($10).
  • Strollers are allowed in most most spaces and galleries.
  • Small purses and backpacks are allowed in the galleries but if they are larger, they need to be checked into coat check.
  • If you have special needs or disabilities, check with the Museum for specific accommodations they have for you and your family.
  • The museum is large so come prepared to stay awhile or break up your visit. Since the museum is free, you can come back as often as you want!

Connect with the Nelson Art Museum

4525 Oak Street
Kansas City, MO 64111

Have you ever visited the Nelson Atkins Art Museum?  What is your favorite exhibit?

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