On a cool, crisp fall morning in the leafy neighborhood of Rockhill, Kansas City, I wandered into the Donald J. Hall (of Hallmark Cards) Sculpture Park. A part of the fantastic Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, this park is set on twenty-two acres and filled with amazing art objects.
Scattered on hills and terraces are traditional and modern sculptures in a garden fit for a picnic. The park is open year-round during daylight hours and the cost is free.
Visitors will immediately notice the sculpture called “Shuttlecocks” designed by the husband and wife team of Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen. The artists envisioned the museum itself as a badminton net and have scattered four shuttlecocks throughout the park. I loved the idea of an interactive badminton court and the sculptures themselves made me smile.
George Segal’s “Rush Hour” depicts a more realistic scene of workers “trudging” to work during rush hour and the art reminded me of groups of workers heading for a subway or bus.
Darker art on the grounds by Magdalena Abakanowicz called “Standing Figures” was a little grimmer and it was interesting trying to speculate the message the artist was trying to send. With a group of headless (and slightly scary) figures, visitors will wonder what the designer meant.
The sculpture terrace and lush green grounds will almost remind visitors of being in a palace. Tourists will recognize art like Auguste Rodin’s “The Thinker” as well as sculpture by Renoir around the terrace.
Since I travel to Alaska frequently with my job, I also enjoyed the sculpture called “Totem Pole” by Kenny Mowatt and Charles Heit. This artwork definitely reminded me of northern Canada and Alaska and I nearly forgot where I was.
A nearby interactive piece by George Rickey called “Two Planes Vertical-Horizontal” moves with the wind and it was fun to watch a piece that was constantly changing.
The grounds of this park are significant and over thirty sculptures are hidden in different corners. With stairs, picnic tables, birds, crickets and the sounds of train whistles and church bells in the distance, this park is first rate. Audioguides, as well as helpful information, are also available inside the museum.
Personally, I wasn’t expecting to like this park as much as I did. I made it to the park early in the morning and with the fall breeze, the leaves changing color, locals walking dogs, children playing and even some amateur photographers, the grounds made for a relaxing escape. I frankly lost track of time and could have spent hours just exploring the park. For art fans near the Kansas City area, a visit to the Donald J. Hall Sculpture Park should be a requirement.
Donald J. Hall Sculpture Park
(On the grounds of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art)
4525 Oak Street
Kansas City, Missouri 64111