Press Release

Art Course Comes to Nelson-Atkins in Summer 2019

Kansas City, MO
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Art-inspired Mini-Golf to Debut in Sculpture Park

In celebration of the masterpieces within The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, this summer the museum will debut a miniature golf course nestled into the trees and terraces on the south lawn. Art Course, open from Memorial Day to Labor Day, will feature nine hole designs that present a fresh interpretation of works of art in the museum’s collection. The nine were selected from 75 proposals submitted by students, architects, designers, and others interested in imagining a playable experience in the Donald J. Hall Sculpture Park.

Visitors can enjoy Art Course during the museum’s operating hours, and tickets will include equipment to play.

Art Course will give us an exciting way to celebrate the treasures inside our walls, and we will all experience our collection from new and wildly creative points of view,” said Julián Zugazagoitia, Menefee D. and Mary Louise Blackwell CEO & Director of the Nelson-Atkins. “We were thrilled with the response to a call for designs, and the submissions were thought-provoking and inspiring.”

The wide range of applicants included many college students, including Kansas City Art Institute students working with Assistant Professor Steve Snell, as well as one applicant as young as 11 years old.

“Design ideas came from a wide array of skill sets, and the winning submissions were chosen for their concepts. The winning holes reimagine art in ways that elevate artistic elements and teach us something about the original works of art,” said Casey Claps, Manager, Strategic Initiatives, and the project lead. “Our goal is that visitors who play Art Course will have fun while learning about and appreciating our collection in a brand new way.”

At a special reception last week, the museum celebrated the winners of the design competition, as identified in the PDF version of the press release available below, and also the key partners who collaborated on the project.

As an example of the creative submissions for Art Course, one design came from Overland Park architect John Glessner and is based on Vasily Kandinsky’s Rose with Gray. On a visit to the Nelson-Atkins, Glessner found himself mesmerized by the painting, which is installed in the Bloch Galleries. He was inspired by the work’s label that describes synesthesia, a condition that Kandinsky experienced and described.

Glessner imagined a mini golf hole that generates sounds while being played, allowing participants to appreciate sounds and colors with both senses simultaneously, as Kandinsky experienced when he painted. Glessner’s detailed plan calls for a plywood platform, concierge bells, children’s glockenspiel keys, wood blocks, and chimes to create a percussive effect, which will ring out as the ball cascades onto different surfaces on the hole.

Like Glessner’s design, each of the nine holes was inspired by a work of art in the Nelson-Atkins collection. A guide to the original works will be available to visitors, prompting searches through galleries.

“It is our greatest desire that Art Course will send visitors on a quest throughout the museum to discover not only the works that inspired the nine holes, but the art that inspires each visitor individually,” Zugazagoitia said.

Creating Art Course was the work of several community partners. An essential partner from early on was Hallmark’s Creative Marketing Studio, which is the advertising and marketing firm for Hallmark Cards. Amy Winterscheidt, National Volunteer Manager for Hallmark, convened the group to work with the Nelson-Atkins, and the talented designers led by Jennifer Lee brought creative energy to the look and feel of Art Course.

“We were elated to have the highly imaginative group from Creative Marketing Studios lend expertise to Art Course—a name they conceived,” said Zugazagoitia. “Their ideas added tremendous quality and brilliance to the project.”

In addition, Bernstein-Rein offered expertise in social media and general marketing, as well as visual design; The Whole Person advised the museum on making the course accessible; and PLAID Collaborative was instrumental in seamlessly integrating the course into the Sculpture Park.

A to Z Theatrical in Kansas City is the museum’s Custom Fabrication Partner and will create the holes, bringing the artists’ concepts to life. A to Z is best known for its extensive work in theater and has a number of talented fabricators with a proven record of craftsmanship.

Viridity, a professional golf course landscape company based in Parkville, Mo., is working with the museum to ensure the installations on the grounds of the Donald J. Hall Sculpture Park are maintained to the highest standards.

The Sunderland Foundation, Sara and Bill Morgan, and Atterbury Family Foundation provided lead gifts that made Art Course possible.

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. The latest on programming can be found at Art Course will run from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

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A rendering of Art Course at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, credit Amber Mills

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