What are the best museums in Kansas City?

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Larry Olmsted

For its size, Kansas City has a wealth of museums. The most prominent is the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, one of the nation’s best. Heavily endowed and flush with cash during the Great Depression it was able to amass a world-class collection at fire sale prices. In 2007, the nearly $100 million Bloch wing, named for benefactor Henry Bloch, cofounder of accounting’s H&R Block fame (he changed spelling), opened and was promptly named a Top 10 New Architectural Marvel by Time Magazine. The other must-see is the National World War One Museum, by the same designer as the Holocaust Memorial in DC. The museum is heavily interactive: you can literally poke your head into the horrors of trench warfare or design your own War Bonds posters. The round museum is split into two halves, one for before the US entry into the war and one for after, with a great short film in between, complete with smoke and special effects. The other notable offerings are the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, with a Louise Bourgeois spider sculpture in front, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, and the American Jazz Museum.

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