Quit Playing Games with My Art

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art was well-known for its amazing collection of art, and now it’s miniature golf.  WHAT?  Miniature golf at an art museum?

When we picked up our putters and chose our color of balls, the woman at the kiosk asked who was going to win.  I told her, he (Jeremy) will, he’s more patient and calculated.  I just want to hit the ball and watch it move through the obstacles.

Hole 1: Jawbreaker Machine by Wayne Thiebaud

Jeremy and I lined up with our putters in hand to sink holes that re-imagined pieces from Kandinsky, Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen and Manet.

In 2019, the museum opened “Art Course,” a mini-golf experience located in the Donald J. Hall Sculpture Park. The nine-hole course features designs that were inspired by works of art from the museum’s permanent collection.

Hole 2: Ferment by Roxy Paine

To make the Art Course a reality, the museum put out a call to artists for submissions. The only condition was that the holes must be inspired by works in the museum’s permanent collection. The museum received 75 entries from artists, elementary school classes, architects, and even a few retirees. A review committee narrowed down the entries to nine finalists. The museum partnered with Hallmark’s Creative Marketing Studio to create a concept and brand along with A-to-Z Theatrical Supply & Service to fabricate each design.

Hole 3: The Croquet Party by Edouard Manet

When the museum first opened the Art Course, CEO Julián Zugazagoitia told inkansascity.com that, “we were delighted to see multigenerational families playing the course and then stepping inside the museum to find the original works of art.”

Hole 4: Rose with Gray by Vasily Kandinsky

By the time we got to this point, I knew Jeremy was going to kick my tail. He was calm and cool, I was more like Happy Gilmore yelling at the ball to go to its home.

Hole 5: Rumi by Mark di Suvero

It was a perfect day for putt-putt.  Cool air, but no wind, with plenty of sunshine.  The Nelson-Atkins stood at the top of the hill as we played through the course. Since it was spring the trees were still blooming, but I imagine that is quite a bit of shade in the summer.

Hole 6: Mound Magician by Radcliffe Bailey

The Smithsonian quoted the museum’s deputy director, Stephanie Knappe, “It’s like eating your vegetables without knowing it… We really hope that people have a new appreciation for a work of art because they experienced it differently. We’re trying to build that connection that art is not a solitary experience that can only be appreciated on a gallery wall, but that it can be brought to life.

Hole 7: Himmel by Marsden Hartley

We stopped playing a couple of times so Jeremy could goof around with the squirrels. He saw a video on tik tok on how to get the squirrels to approach you. He tried it several times. The squirrels watched him intently, but did not approach.

Hole 8: Girl with Bicycle, Dublin by Evelyn Hofer

The museum also encourages kids to participate in a scavenger hunt. The hunt requires the children to find the artwork that inspired each of the nine holes on the course. Once they check the artwork off their list, they can take it to the gift shop and get a free prize.

Hole 9: Shuttlecocks by Claes Oldenburg & Coosje van Bruggen

Jeremy and I enjoyed the course.  It was a little early, but there is a bar by the Art Course and how cool is this, there are cup holders at each hole. 

Remember at the beginning of this story, what I said about the score… as you can see below… I was right.