KCMO: A checklist for Art & Architecture.

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).

Morris Louis | Beth Rash, 1958-1959.

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.]

Grass runway in front of the Nerman.

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).

Annie Lapin, The You Fountain (2008).

The Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art.

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.

Frank Lloyd Wright in Kansas City.

And just around the corner from the Kemper is a church designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1940.

Community Christian Church designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1940.

Chocolates and Coffee.

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.

  1. The National Museum of Toys / Miniatures.
  2. Powell Gardens to see the work of E. Fay Jones, one of Frank Lloyd Wright's apprentices.
  3. 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.]
Filed under Checklist

a curious person still searching for the poem that Nezami Ganjavi wrote about the prince who toured his kingdom only to find crumbling structures, causing him to reflect on the transience of life.

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