The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art | The Traveling Newlyweds

10 Must-See Artworks in KC

With three great museums in the Kansas City metro to choose from, it’s hard to know where to begin. Whether you’re an art aficionado or a casual viewer, you’re sure to love these beloved pieces.

Guanyin of the Southern Sea — (11th to 12th century)

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art - Internationally recognized as the finest sculpture of its kind outside  China, this piece may be the best-preserved and most magnificent sculpture from this period of Chinese Buddhist art. The piece is part of the Chinese collection at the museum, which is recognized as one of the finest in the world.


Saint John the Baptist in the Wilderness — Caravaggio (1604-1605)

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art - This masterpiece is one of the museum’s greatest treasures and is one of only a few original works by Caravaggio in American collections. Caravaggio’s dramatic painting style played a significant role in the development of the Italian Baroque.


Some/one — Do-Ho Suh (2004)

Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art - This meticulously crafted sculpture is comprised of thousands of stainless steel dog tags pieced together to form a monumental robe with outstretched arms. Like many of Suh’s works, it explores the relations between individuality, collectivity, anonymity and identity.


Campiello del Remer — Dale Chihuly (1996)

Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art - This sculpture represents the first time that an outside artist was allowed into Ireland’s Waterford Crystal factory to work with the factory artisans. The hand blown pieces of cut crystal that make up this piece are joined together to create one massive 1,800 pound sculptural “chandelier,” which hangs above the museum’s west doors.


Boulevard de Capucines — Claude Monet (1873-1874)

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art - This work provides a glimpse into 19th-century Parisian life on a winter day. Once criticized for its loose brushwork and ordinary subject matter, the painting is now one of the most loved pieces in the museum’s European collection.


Shuttlecocks — Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen (1994)

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art - Four shuttlecocks, each standing nearly 18 feet tall and weighing 5,500 pounds, are placed on the lawn on opposite sides of the museum. The husband and wife artist team responded to the formality of the neoclassical building by imagining the museum as a giant badminton net and the lawn as a playing field.


Spider — Louise Bourgeois (1997)

Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art - This spider, which is more than 11 feet tall, sits on the museum’s lawn and is positioned to suggest that it is walking towards the building’s entrance to attend to a baby spider, which is attached to the museum’s façade.


Microcosm — Leo Villareal (2007)

Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art - Dramatically sited underneath the overhang of the museum’s entrance, Microcosm radiates with more than 60,000 individual LED lights enacting Villareal’s computer program. This dazzling work signifies the museum as a gateway to the Johnson County Community College’s 21st-century campus.


Mrs. Cecil Wade — John Singer Sargent (1886)

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art - This portrait of the wife of a wealthy English stockbroker in her London townhome explores a range of lighting effects and textures. Sargent’s work is part of the newly expanded American galleries at the museum, whose collection of American art is among the strongest in the United States.


Experienced Time — Matthew Ritchie (2003)

Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art - Ritchie’s works explore the limits of human consciousness in understanding the universe. This monumental painting hangs in the Kemper Museum of Art.


Art in KC