Beauty in the Eye of the Beholder

KCMO is home to one of the most beloved art museums of the country: The Nelson Atkins Museum of Art


Ally Sarver

A look at The Nelson Atkins popular modern art exhibit.

The Nelson Atkins Art Museum is a hidden treasure located in KCMO. It is recognized internationally as one of the finest art museums in all of America and is home to over 42,000 pieces. From Christianity art to ancient Japanese, Claude Monet to Henry Lane, the Nelson truly has something for everyone to look at. On top of the set exhibits, temporary exhibits rotate through up to two times a year to pull in new artwork and culture. But how did the museum come to be?
The Nelson’s existence can be credited to two people: William Rocket Nelson and Mary Mcfee Atkins. Nelson was the founder of the Kansas City Star and also worked as a real-estate developer. He was passionate about art and understood the importance it held in society. Atkins was a teacher who spent time in Europe, where she developed her love and appreciation for artwork. The two had never met and were never able to see the museum completed, but both of them dedicated large chunks of their estates to Kansas to fund an art museum in Kansas. Art was purchased beginning in 1930, and the museum opened its doors to the public on December 11, 1933. It has served as a place of culture and serenity to many for nine decades and continues to do so today.
A popular spot for field trips and tourists, it’s no surprise that The Nelson gets over 500,000 visitors a year. The most popular time to visit is May through October, to take advantage of the lawn during the warm weather. Outside of the Nelson walls, artwork floods the lawn area with a sculpture garden, a field with shuttlecocks, and an overview of downtown. The building itself is shaped like a net for a badminton game with birdies lying on each side of the building. The building was built to look like someone paused in the middle of a game to step inside the museum for a break. It has three levels, the basement, the plaza, and the mezzanine. It is broken up by the different cultures the artwork came from, including American, English, Chinese, Modern, and so much more. There is something for everyone!
The Nelson is located by the Plaza and has free admission for all. All you need to do to attend is register and sign up for a time. It is 165,000 square feet. It also has a lawn including sculptures of shuttlecocks, where many people enjoy relaxing, walking, or taking many pictures. As the days get colder, the time to spend out on the lawn is shortened, so take the opportunity to go and see the treasure located right under our noses!

“The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art – Kansas City.” Nelson Atkins,