Kansas City: More Than BBQ, Chiefs, and Royals

A city on rolling hills with parks, fountains, museums, jazz, and more, Kansas City is a jewel in the Midwest.

In Kansas City, there’s something for everyone, coupled with an array of free activities including the KC Streetcar. Bike KC is a network of on-street bicycle facilities.

Renowned for its rich jazz and blues legacy, Kansas City offers several nightclubs that feature jazz on a regular basis. For a sports fan, Kansas City offers the best of baseball, football, and soccer.

Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

Opened in 1933, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art maintains a collection of more than 35,000 works of art and is especially known for its Asian holdings. The Museum, overlooking a vast sloping lawn, was transformed by the addition of the Bloch Building — an irregularly shaped building in boxes of translucent glass that cascade down the side of a hill, yet a striking complement to the original neoclassical building.

Apart from its premier art collection, one of the best things about the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art is that it's free -- admission is free [you pay for parking]; free tours are available every day; iPads are on loan for a free audio tour [highly recommended]. Do take time to enjoy the 22 acre Sculpture Park.

End of the Trail, James Earle Fraser

"The trail is lost, the path is hid, and winds that blow from out the ages sweep me on to that chill borderland where Time's spent sands engulf lost peoples and lost trails."

These words by Marion Manville Pope is said to have inspired End of the Trail by James Earle Fraser. This piece evokes emotions of subjugation, displacement, and loss.

The Community Bookshelf

The Community Bookshelf of the Kansas City Central Library parking garage is a striking feature. Running along the south wall, the Community Bookshelf showcases 22 titles ranging from Tao Te Ching by Lau Tsu, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, Truman by David G. McCullough, and more.

The Ewing and Muriel Kauffman Memorial Garden

A small garden with a lot of beauty in its flowers and serenity. The garden showcases several designs: Green Garden, Orangery, Parterre Garden, and Secret Garden. Among the lush and colorful annual and perennial plantings of the Ewing and Muriel Kauffman Memorial Garden are bronze sculptures by Tom Corbin. Admission is free and so is parking. If you have a bike, enjoy the adjacent trail.

Liberty Memorial, National World War I Museum and Memorial

“In honor of those who served in the world war in defense of liberty and our country.” [Inscription on the Liberty Memorial Tower in Kansas City, Missouri, USA]

The Liberty Memorial is located at the National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City. It is a regarded as "America's leading institution dedicated to remembering, interpreting and understanding the Great War and its enduring impact on the global community."

Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts

Designed by architect Moshe Safdie, the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts' two symmetrical half shells of concentric arches open toward the south with a façade made entirely of glass. Each shell houses one acoustically independent performance venue with a shared backstage area. In the Helzberg Hall, you almost become a part of the musical ensemble. At the Muriel Kauffman Theater, the setting provides a sense of closeness with the actors on stage.

Public tours are offered at $10, which highlights the architectural aspect and historical overview of the project.

Crying Giant by Tom Otterness, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art

The Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art was designed by Gunnar Birkerts. The Museum has a permanent collection of contemporary art and balances it with exhibition programs. The collection includes works by Chihuly, Coyne, O’Keeffe, Warhol, and more. Located within the Museum is Café Sebastienne, which serves lunch, dinner, and brunch. Overall a great place to spend a couple of hours, with free admission and parking.

American Jazz Museum

Preserving the history of the American jazz, the American Jazz Museum in Kansas City features exhibits on Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, and more. Visit the Blue Room, a jazz club on the site of the Museum. The same building houses the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, which aims to preserve the history of Negro League baseball. In the history of Negro Leagues, the Kansas City Monarchs were the longest-running franchise. Do not miss the Field of Legends! Entry is $10 to either of the museums or $15 for both.

Harry S. Truman National Historic Site

A 20-minute drive takes you from Kansas City to Independence, Missouri. The 33rd President of the United States, Harry S. Truman, returned to Independence to live at the Wallace home, which he enjoyed before, during, and after his presidency.

The tour offered by the National Park Service is highly recommended. Currently a free tour but you need to reserve your tour at the Truman House Ticket Center located on Main St. The grounds of the Truman Farm are open year-round for free self-guided tours. [Audio tours also available.]

Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum

The Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum provides a great insight into America's 33rd President. In addition to the main and lower level of the Library and Museum, a courtyard features the gravesite of Harry and Bess Truman, along with their daughter and husband. An American Legion Flame of Freedom is also featured in the courtyard.

For many, Truman might seem flawed. For me, Truman was a great man who went from humble beginnings to being the President of the United States. During his presidency, he renounced isolationism, rebuilt Europe with the Marshall Plan, assisted in the formation of United Nations, issued Executive Orders for racial integration in the military and federal agencies, and much more. Post-presidency, Truman returned to his humble beginnings, living on his old army pension of ~$112 per month, without any pension from his Senate service.

1827 Log Courthouse

Harry S. Truman held court in the 1827 Log Courthouse during the 1930s. For more than forty years, this was the only courthouse between Independence, Missouri, and the Pacific Ocean. The courthouse was once a Mormon mercantile store.

Independence Temple

Located in Independence, Missouri, the Independence Temple of the Community of Christ was designed by Gyo Obata. The Independence Temple evokes the spiral shell of a nautilus. The Temple has a wide collection of traditional and modern religious art from around the world. Guided tours are available.

Obata studied architecture at Washington University in St. Louis, which was the only university in the United States willing to accept Japanese nationals in the 1940s.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *