The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City

4.8
#2 of 14 in Museums in Kansas City
Renowned for the building's neoclassical architecture and impressive permanent collection of Asian art, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art is beloved by Kansas City visitors and locals alike. The museum's Beaux Arts architecture style was inspired by the Cleveland Museum of Art and designed by architects Wight and Wight. A schoolteacher and art lover named Mary Atkins left money for the construction of this museum in 1911, and, though it was originally two separate galleries, the sites merged into one museum in 1983. While the museum is best known and celebrated for its extensive collection of Asian works, especially pieces from imperial China, it also boasts numerous American and European paintings, as well as photography and visiting exhibitions. This site hosts balls, speaker series, and other events year round. Make The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art a centerpiece of your Kansas City vacation itinerary, and find what else is worth visiting using our Kansas City tour itinerary planning tool .
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The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art Reviews
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  • I only spent a few hours here, but it was enough to really enjoy. You could spend a full day and still not see anything but I think that going several times seeing bits and pieces each time you go wou...  more »
  • Not to be missed. Free. One of 20 some casts of Rodin’s “The Thinker” is on the south lawn... worth the trip to see that alone. Please ask your children not to touch the 100+ year old oil paintings. W...  more »
  • We had read beforehand about the museum but until you actually get there, it is hard to imagine how extraordinary it is. This is a really impressive building and the grounds are delightful. Kansas Cit...  more »
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  • This has to be one of the best museums in the world. I visited last Saturday, September 16, 2017, and the staff were polite, friendly and very knowledgeable. The beautiful African American lady at the entrance was so wonderful and welcomed us with open arms! The collection was stunning! I live in Seattle and SAM is like a little miniature museum compared to this museum. The food was delicious and I was thinking that I am having lunch in Italy. The surrounding was so beautiful. Thank you for this spectacular experience. Something that I will never forget. Thank you for the hospitality and friendliness and most of all "you" present Kansas City well and proud!
  • The artwork is phenomenal.. the art guides are very educational about the art... they offer wonderful exhibits.. if you love art you will love this place even if you don't love art it's an awesome place to visit. They have a really beautiful restaurant that is historic. I would highly recommend that everybody visit the Nelson Art Gallery. Thursday and Friday nights they are open till 9 p.m. the rest of the week I do believe they close at 5 p.m.
  • One of my favorite places in Kansas City! Free admission, although some exhibits do cost money, typically not very much though. The staff is extremely knowledgeable and will answer just about any question that you have regarding art or anything pertaining to the facility or grounds. Parking is $10, but it's free for the first 30 minutes. You can save yourself a little bit of money and park on the street if you can find a spot. It's also a really great place for kids of all ages. Every weekend they have art workshops for the kids and kids at heart.
  • Free admission. If you choose to park in the garage, it is $10 to park. If you can find street side parking, it's free. It's easy to spend an entire day here and not see everything in the museum. Great permanent and visiting exhibits. They're always working on new exhibits. Truly a gem in KC, and arguably one of the best art museums in the country!
  • If you are in Kansas City, DO NOT miss a visit to Nelson. It may be smaller than many leading national art institutes and museum (and I have been to some of those). But yet, it is pretty extensive, and of all, beautiful! And you are allowed a free admission!!! Only some special exhibits you might have to pay. But the entire museum is free. They have every thing from ancient to modern, and from across the world, art as well as archaeology. The architecture of the museum building itself is very nice...walk around the outside and you will see how it changes its character. You will actually walk through the beautiful lawn and garden that surrounds the building, which is also peppered with beautiful art and architecture...take a moment to even sit down and appreciate whatever you liked overlooking. It is not loud and crowded like some of these places in big cities. One can spend several peaceful and joyous hours here. The Country Club Plaza is also right next and can cater to your before/after plans. Make sure to look up their hours, their schedule is a little out of ordinary.

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Where to stay in Kansas City

If you want to sample the city’s nightlife, consider a hotel in the Power and Light District, home to a wide array of restaurants, bars, and nightclubs. The 39th Street District is a good choice for those on vacation who prefer quirky independent venues. The city boasts an array of cozy bed and breakfasts both within and on the outskirts of the city. Those with access to a car can enjoy Kansas City on a budget by staying at a nearby campground or RV park.
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