Last week I traveled back to Kansas City for the fifth time in four years. I love this city, and whenever I pass back through, I always search for a new place to explore.
The Nelson-Atkins Art Museum and the shuttlecocks installation by sculptors Claes Oldenburg & Coosje van Bruggen is a longtime favorite. The extension to the museum, built in 2007 by Steven Holl, was named one of the 10 best architectural marvels by TIME that same year. [Note. Holl also designed the Residence of the Swiss Ambassador, an architectural gem located in Washington, DC., perched on a hill with a clear line of sight to the Washington monument.]
The Nerman, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Spiders.
On this visit to Kansas City, I stopped by the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, walked by the Community Christian Church designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, and dropped into the Kemper (where I ran into the work of the husband of a neighbor from childhood and one of Louise Bourgeois' spiders).
Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art.
The Nerman is located 15 miles southwest of Kansas City. I was staying at the Intercontinental, so I hopped on Ward Parkway, turned on a podcast, and arrived in just under 30 minutes. [The choice to drive down Ward Parkway was intentional and was a bit like stepping into another era. In recognition of the street's unique character, the American Planning Association designated Ward one of ten "Great Streets" in 2012.]
The museum is part of Johnson County Community College campus and was designed by Kyu Sung Woo, a Cambridge-based architect who designed one of my favorite graduate student dormitories on Harvard's campus. Woo is the 2008 laureate of the prestigious Ho-Am Prize in the Arts established in 1994 by the Chairman of Samsung, in memory of the company's Founder, Byung-chull Lee. [Note. Ho-Am was Byung-chull Lee's pen name, meaning "filling up a space with clear water as lakes do, and being unshakeable as a large rock". End note.]
Another Ho-Am Laureate's work can be found on the second floor of the Nerman, and that is the work of Do-ho Suh. One of my favorite pieces from the day was that of Annie Lapin, mostly for the explanation of what motivates her work: obscuring the familiar and "subverting expectation" (as noted on the museum label next to her work).
A couple of hours before flying home, I made my way over to the Kemper, catching sight of a familiar face (Morris Louis) as I walked through the door, passing Louise's spider parked out front.
And just around the corner from the Kemper is a church designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1940.
The perfect end to this quick visit was a walk to Hi Hat Coffee, the sweetest neighborhood coffee shop, and a stop at Annedore's to pick up some chocolate mummies and bats for nephews and nieces. #essentials
A checklist for next time.
- The National Museum of Toys / Miniatures.
- Powell Gardens to see the work of E. Fay Jones, one of Frank Lloyd Wright's apprentices.
- Kansas City Museum (when it reopens in 2019), to see the former location of the beloved Eskimo Land. [Reading about people's nostalgia for Eskimo Land, reminds me of my own that I have for the original location of the National Children's Museum in Washington DC. In 2019, a new DMV children's museum will open in Fort Totten.]