The art of Kansas City, in museums and on the streets

banner kansas city

Every city has street art, but the murals on Kansas City buildings are especially cool because a lot of them honor the city’s jazz music legacy.

kansas-city-mural

These old scenes in the 18th & Vine District portray some of jazz music’s big stars, like Billie Holiday and Charlie Parker.

billie-holiday-street-art

charlie-parker-street-art

Elsewhere in 18th & Vine, silver musicians are included as part of a larger art piece behind the building that houses the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and the Jazz Museum.

musician-art

Another unusual statue back there is this bear, which someone had dressed for the chilly winter weather.

bear-kansas-city

And Charlie Parker makes another appearance with the 10-foot “Bird Lives” bronze statue, titled in honor of his nickname and dedicated in 1999.

charlie-parker-statue

This jazz cow I’ve mentioned before is another cool art piece in the middle of the district, right in front of the Gem Theater.

18th & vine cow

This 12th street design is traditionally classic. That would be obvious even if the mural didn’t tell say so.

kansas-city-12th-street-mur

The most eye-popping art I saw came from the Kultured Chameleon gallery.

kultured-chameleon

I walked past this structure a few times before I realized the waves were intentional. At first, I thought it was just a big curtain covering up construction in progress. Turns out it’s an artsy design!

silver-building-kc

For a more refined collection of art, the Nelson-Atkins Museum is the place to be.

nelson-atkins-museum

These figurines are amazing. They are funerary figures from China in the 800s. They were displayed on carts during funerary processions and were believed to help the dead in the afterlife.

chinese-funerary-figures

No art museum would be complete without some colonial era artwork.

colonial-artwork

This is one of the coolest pieces in Nelson-Atkins: “Hotel de France,” an oil painting from 1928 by American Stuart Davis. The colors stand out, even if you don’t look closely enough to realize that the red is a pubic urinal and the green is an advertising kiosk.

hotel-de-france

Buddha is watching. Always.

buddha-statue

Over at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, the giant spider stands guard at the entrance.

kemper-museum-spider

The Kemper is small but has some interesting collections, like the “Iconic Moments” gallery, featuring Roger Shimomura’s “Untitled” and this strange lounge chair wood carving.

kemper-modern-art

Which piece of Kansas City art is your favorite?

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About Scott Shetler

Scott is a Chicago-based journalist and blogger who seeks out quirky sights and awesome destinations throughout North America and beyond.

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