World’s Largest Shuttlecocks (Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art)
Location: Kansas City, MO (4525 Oak St.)
When to visit: Anytime during daylight hours (The museum itself is open Wednesday through Sunday)
Time needed to enjoy: 10 minutes
Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen are the masters of quirky sculptures. The European husband and wife team behind the spoon and cherry in Minneapolis and the giant ‘Free’ stamp in Cleveland also created the world’s largest shuttlecocks, which sit outside the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City.
When the artists were commissioned in 1994 to create a piece, they imagined the wide lawn around the museum as a badminton court, thus inspiring them to produce four 18-foot-tall shuttlecocks (also known as birdies.) Each one weighs 5,500 pounds.
Interestingly, the museum has taken steps to conserve the birdies by replacing their former paint-every-two-years strategy with a new system involving a special paint that lasts up to 15 years. Back in 2002 they painstakingly dismantled the pieces, repaired cracks, repainted, and reassembled.
Not only is it free to see the shuttlecocks, but the museum itself is also free, so you can wander through and check out the rest of the collections without spending a dime.