Nelson-Atkins named best museum in the country

The Nelson-Atkins was named the best museum in America, so here’s how to get the most out of the best!



An ancient marble tiger sits in the Adelaide Cobb Ward Sculpture Hall of the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art. The sculpture hall, containing many ancient sculpture, is meant to serve as the heart of the museum.

by Jeannie O'Flaherty and Cassie Hayes

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art was recently voted the best museum in the country based on Yelp reviews and overall ratings.
So now that it’s got your attention, here’s what you need to do:

1. Explore all of the collections from around the world
There’s art from all over the world – you can check out ancient Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain artifacts from South Asia, or the more modern art from India, Thailand, or Cambodia.

Next, be sure to spend time with the thousands of works from China, a collection that is one of the finest in the world. Once you’ve explored all there is to see from Southeastern Asia, you can make your way to the Japanese collection filled with pieces ranging anywhere from 30,000 years ago up until the 20th century. The African art collection, featuring headdresses and bodily ornaments from more than 30 of the continent’s cultures, is a lively and informative experience that gives insight to how objects are used in African ceremonies and everyday life.
After that, you can wander back over to the original building to see paintings and sculptures from Europe. With art spanning from Medieval times all the way through World War II, you’re sure to find something that intrigues you.

After you work your way through the elaborate halls and various stairwells, don’t forget to look at the American collection with works such as 20th-century Realism and early American modernism. Then, be sure to check out the American Indian art that includes pottery, basketry, quill and beadwork, textiles, painting and sculpture.
If you feel up for seeing some more unconventional pieces, move to the Contemporary art exhibit found in the Bloch Building. Get a look at paintings, sculptures, decorative arts and digital media. There is even a new installation, Project Space.

photos by Cassie Hayes

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2. Attend events that catch your attention
Festivals celebrating a variety of cultures take place every year. Join in on something you’d like to learn about, like the Chinese New Year, or the Day of the Dead.
Watch a performance, the Nelson hosts anywhere from film series to dance performances to visual art.
Attend a talk or presentation to learn more about the museum’s collections and exhibitions. Scholars, art curators, and filmmakers are on the list to present to you what they know.
Coming up is TED Live, Teen Battle of the Bands, and weekend family activities exploring the museum’s Pop Art collection.
Go to open mic. Once a month the Nelson’s Teen Advisory Group hosts an open mic where you can showcase poetry, music, dance, and just about any performance you can think of.
Take a class.

3. Take advantage of the beautiful sculpture park
Take a picnic and relax in the wide open green, or bring your dog and throw the frisbee. And of course, get a good close up of the giant birdie sculptures.

4. Celebrate that the best museum in the country is in your city!
Nelson named best museum:
Nelson-Atkins website: