The Nelson is firing on all cylinders: Best of KC 2019

“30 Americans,” a summer highlight at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. // Photo by Dana Anderson.

Our annual Best of Kansas City 2019 issue is out now. Go grab a copy. Alternatively, you can browse the results of the readers’ poll here. The issue also includes a list, compiled and written by The Pitch’s editorial staff, shouting out some of our current favorite things about KC. We’ll be publishing these items online throughout the month of October.

Everybody knows the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art is a gem. The sprawling lawn, the shuttlecocks, the free admission, all that art—it’s a top-tier KC destination, one of the first places you tell people to go when they visit. But the Nelson has been really wonderful lately, and some general recognition of that excellence is in order. Community-oriented events like Yoga in the Park and the young-professional-friendly Third Thursdays consistently offer the art-shy a reason to get a bit closer to some paintings, as does the nine-hole mini-golf course (each hole designed to interpret a piece of art in the museum’s collection) that’s been erected out front. (You can play through October 14.) Andy Goldsworthy’s still-evolving “Walking Wall” installation has seen a stone wall take on a life of its own, roving the Nelson’s grounds, puzzling passersby, even jutting out into Rockhill Road. And what a delight to learn, in September, that the recently shuttered Tivoli Cinemas would be revived inside the Nelson, showing films four times a week. Best of all, to us, was “30 Americans,” this summer’s absolute stunner of an exhibition featuring sculptures, paintings, photos, and more from 30 African-American artists, including Kara Walker, Kehinde Wiley, and Jean-Michel Basquiat. We visited on a Saturday toward the end of the run and glimpsed a vision of an almost dreamlike Kansas City we’ve long yearned to see: a big, racially diverse crowd, young and old, gathered in the same place, interacting and engaging with powerful, challenging art. The Nelson’s vision statement calls for the museum to be a place “where the power of art engages the spirit of community.” That’s precisely what it’s doing, and we’re all lucky to be here at such an ambitious moment for this essential cultural institution.

Categories: Art