What's New & What's Next in Kansas City's Museums

Never ones to remain stagnant, Kansas City’s cultural institutions have been hard at work preparing for a bright and busy 2021. Here’s a look at all that’s new in the year ahead.

Hands-On History

War Remains Virtual Reality Experience

Two new blockbuster experiences are making their way to Kansas City this summer. Opening just in time for Memorial Day at the National WWI Museum and Memorial, War Remains is a moving, 12-minute virtual reality experience that brings to life the “war to end all wars” from a soldier’s point of view on the Western Front. First making waves at the Tribeca and SXSW film festivals, War Remains will keep a long-term residency at the KC institution. Due to the graphic nature of its content, participants must be at least 14 years of age. Watch a preview video.

Remembering the Holocaust

Prisoner's overcoat
Courtesy of Musealia

In the grand tradition of its record-breaking Princess Diana and Dead Sea Scrolls experiences, Union Station is poised to welcome another international exhibition this summer—serving as the final American stop for Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away. beginning June 14. Deemed the most comprehensive exhibition about the concentration camp ever exhibited in the U.S., the powerful, 20-gallery experience will feature more than 700 original objects and 400 photographs, many of which have never been on public display. Watch a video sneak peek and then book your tickets at unionstation.org.

Fresh on the Vine

Art at the Museums at 18th & Vine

Inside the 18th & Vine Historic Jazz District, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum has kicked off a yearlong celebration commemorating the 101st anniversary of the founding of the leagues. In addition to the acclaimed evergreen exhibit, Negro Leagues 101 will highlight a series of programs, lectures and other events that celebrate the rich history of Black baseball and its impact on the social advancement of America.

Inside the same complex, the changing gallery at the American Jazz Museum welcomes Jazz and the Black Aesthetic featuring five of the artists behind the Black Lives Matter murals adorning the streets of Kansas City. Best yet, all of the artwork featured in the exhibit is for sale.

Child's Play

Regnier Family Wonderscope Children's Museum Interior

It pays to be a kid in Kansas City—perhaps now more than ever. Running, jumping, splashing and sharing are all encouraged at the new Regnier Family Wonderscope Children’s Museum—a joyful, self-guided environment that holds to a child-centered, no-failure philosophy. Nestled in the Red Bridge area, the new museum lets kids be kids—or riverboat captains, chefs, athletes or artists … whatever strikes their imagination.

Let curiosity be your guide at Science City, fresh off its largest expansion since its opening in 1999. In addition to the already more than 200 interactive exhibits, visitors will now also encounter four new Early Learning areas celebrating hands-on learning. Step Right Up, an exhibit designed in partnership with students from Tonganoxie Middle School, uses classic carnival games to help kids understand probability, statistics, the laws of physics and more. 

Playtime continues at the National Museum of Toys & Miniatures, home to Bridging the Gender Divide through Sept. 5. From chemistry to construction, toys have prepared generations of kids to pursue careers in STEM fields. Discover how these toys, once marketed primarily to boys, have evolved to encourage all children through play to explore science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Art Abounds

Nelson-Atkins Art Course

One of The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art’s most beloved paintings, Claude Monet’s Water Lilies, has a new home in an exciting, immersive exhibition. Running until Jan. 23, 2022, Monet’s Water Lilies: From Dawn to Dusk presents the painting with a 10-minute light program that emulates the rise and fall of daylight. Playing every 15 minutes, the experience is accompanied by nature sounds from Monet’s garden in Giverny.

On the south lawn, be sure to check out the return of the museum’s popular art-themed miniature golf course (March 19-Oct. 24). New to the nine-hole Art Course in 2021 is a hole paying tribute to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and the 100th anniversary of the Kansas City Monarchs.

Kansas City’s other fantastic free museum, the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, is also in the neighborhood. On display through May 16, Speaking to Relatives is a major solo exhibition by mixed-media artist Dyani White Hawk. A melding of abstract and historical imagery, White Hawk’s works speak to the significance of the shared history between Native and non-Native groups.

Next on the Horizon

Truman Library Exhibit Preview

Celebrate the legacy of the 33rd commander-in-chief with an all-new experience at the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum. Reopening later this year after the largest renovation in its history, state-of-the-art technology breathes new life into one of only 14 presidential libraries in the country.

KC’s rich history will take center stage at the Kansas City Museum, reopening this fall in the historic Northeast area after a massive renovation to its 1910 mansion home. Five new exhibit galleries will take visitors on a collection of stories that reflect the city’s evolution and spirit, ranging from American Indian life and the Lewis & Clark Expedition to the role of neighborhoods and the introduction of KC jazz.  

Set to debut later this year in North Kansas City is The Rabbit hOle, touted as the world’s first “Explor-a-Storium”—an immersive storybook wonderland where beloved children’s books like Good Night Moon and Where the Wild Things Are will spring to life.

Visit KC recommends confirming availability with individual attractions before you visit.