Kansas City Art-Ventures
Pablo Picasso is often quoted as having said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist when we grow up.”
We Kansas Citians are fortunate to live in an art-rich city, and we’re even more fortunate that art is becoming more and more accessible, inspirational and engaging. These “art-ventures” blend the creativity of art with the fun of a personalized adventure … guaranteeing fabulous memories and inspiration.
Curiosity Passport KC ... an artistic letterboxing adventure
Scavenger hunts have long been a favorite activity for kids, but putting one together can take a lot of work. That’s where letterboxing comes in. Letterboxing, not to be confused with geocaching (though undeniably similar), is a super-fun, free, hobby for all ages. You can find letterboxing hobbyists online offering simple tutorials and tips. Visit a website like AtlasQuest.com to find clues to the nearest letterbox in your neighborhood or out on your adventures. Once you find the location, search for the actual letterbox (often a small tin containing a stamp and a log book). You will use the stamp to mark your own personal logbook, and then you stamp the book in the box (you may use a homemade stamp, a purchased stamp or a thumbprint). When you start exploring the hobby you’ll find fun in the creation or selection of your own signature stamp and logbook and the adventure of discovering new places.
Metro area adventurist Alexis Webb Bechtold has localized letterboxing for Kansas Citians with her own brand new letterboxing adventure hunt. Her series, the Curiosity Passport KC, is all about inspiration and discovery, leading explorers to 24 artistic off-the-beaten-path sites in the area where you’ll discover many hidden gems. She has hidden 24 letterboxes in Kansas City, and you’ll find the clues and tips for beginners on her site. The adventure begins at the New Element (3740 Broadway Suite 300, KC, MO) with a self-described “wacky, wall-full of mini-mosaics, upcycled from used plastic gift cards.” Bechtold designed her own art boxes inspired by each of the Curiosity Passport locations. At the gallery exhibit, you may pick up a passport and follow clues to find hidden additional art—in the form of letterboxes—at the KC-area locations that inspired all of the mini-mosaics. As a bonus, you may also visit Buttonwood Art Space (3013 Main St. Kansas City, MO) and discover another special Curiosity Passport piece and letterbox designed for KC Parks & Rec.
This scavenger hunt is the perfect summer challenge for a family! You can try to visit multiple sites in one day or a weekend, or stretch it out throughout the summer. The discoveries include Missouri’s biggest tree, a beautiful statue known for guarding “broken birds,” a caboose on a downtown roof, a tour of the solar system, and many more inspiring works of art and surprises often overlooked by residents. The activity is an exciting and engaging way to rediscover your own hometown this summer. Visit CuriosityPassport.com for all the information you need to begin your adventure.
A Round of Golf … on the lawn of the Nelson-Atkins
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art is a true local gem. The art gallery offers free admission and an expansive collection of art from throughout history and around the world. The staff at the info desk are great resources to help families discover something new on each visit. Audio tours, guides and activities are provided. This summer, the museum lawn becomes even more inspirational with the installation of the all new Art Course!
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art’s lawn has long been a favorite place to play in Kansas City and is the go-to spot for picnics, photo ops and the entrance to the Glass Labyrinth. This summer, Kansas City’s backyard becomes even more exciting with the addition of a new miniature golf course nestled into the trees and terraces on the south lawn. The nine-hole course, open from Memorial Day to Labor Day, will present a fresh interpretation of pieces from the museum’s collection. The course will inspire players as they encounter the sights, sounds and colors through creative elements inspired by pieces in the galleries. Tickets for Art Course will be $14 for general adults, $11 for adults who are museum members and $9 for children 4 to 12. The course is free for children 3 and under.
Create a Ceramic Masterpiece
Painting ceramics is a favorite pastime for all ages at two of our favorite local paint-your-own pottery shops: Paint, Glaze & Fire and Ceramic Café. Both shops offer a wide selection of ceramic animals, favorite characters, mugs, plates, piggy banks, boxes and trinkets so customers can find the perfect piece for their home. Kids love to paint their own projects and return to collect the glazed ceramic masterpieces. Check the shop calendars for story time and special family or kids night themed events throughout the year.
Paint Your Own Puppet
The Puppetry Arts Institute in Independence is one of our favorite hidden gems. Visitors to this delightful museum and theater are welcomed by some of the best volunteers in the metro. The team at PAI loves to share the creativity of puppetry with young children. The museum features many puppets from Hazelle Rollins, a local Kansas City, MO, businesswoman who owned a nationally recognized and world’s largest puppet factory from 1935 to 1975. PAI was gifted the remaining inventory of the factory and uses these parts in puppet painting and marionette construction workshops. On weekends and for special events, the museum hosts live puppet shows. During the week, you can see a vast collection of puppets. And, you may also sign up for a puppet making workshop (a bargain at less than $10/puppet) where you can make your very own puppet to keep.
Kristina Light and her girls love exploring local art and creating their own projects as well. They have especially fond memories at the PAI where the puppeteers and volunteers share their passion for creativity with kids.