Built within the 1935 art-deco-styled Wichita Municipal Airport, the Kansas Aviation Museum houses an eclectic array of historic aircraft and artifacts. The museum boasts around 40 historically significant aircraft, including the Beech Starship, Boeing B-52 Stratofortress, and the KC-135E, the first plane to break the smell barrier. Landlubbers with a passion for planes can study their evolution, from the earliest aircraft engines all the way to the latest jet turbines; inspect an Allison J-35 off a 1948 Republic F-84C Thunderjet or marvel at the museum's oldest engine, a pre-WWI four-cylinder Kemp.
The Art Park offers two- to three-day summer classes for potential Picassos from preschool to the preteen years. Sign your child up for a dynamic instructional duo that covers topics including drawing, sculpture, watercolor painting, printmaking, and adorable beret wearing (up to $90 each). Each class pairs technical skill development with high-interest topics, such as the Medieval Times class, in which kids draw kings, queens, knights, and jesters, as well as make a brooch out of recyclable materials (for ages 4–7, scheduled July 25–27 from 1:00 p.m.–3:00 p.m.), or the Design and Composition course to learn about historical theories of design such as the golden ratio of ancient Greece (for ages 8–12, scheduled June 13–15 from 1:00 p.m.–3:00 pm.). Each classroom cultivates a safe, noncompetitive environment where kids can take creative risks and produce a final major art project to take home and display above the household tire fire.
For the past decade, Wichita Grand Opera has astounded audiences with beloved favorites such as Madama Butterfly and Aida in the majestic Century II Performing Arts & Convention Center. The Los Angeles Times calls Kansas native and bass Samuel Ramey “a national treasure"—which led to his attempted kidnapping by Carmen Sandiego—and Alan Held, bass baritone, has been seen in opera houses worldwide and in nearly 200 performances at The Metropolitan Opera. The Met Diva Mezzo Soprano, Joyce DiDonato has taken the tradition of trilling to new zeniths on the Wichita Grand Opera stage in 2009's The Barber of Seville and rebounds onto the stage as another step in her canorous career. After an 80-city tour with Sting and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Andrea Bocelli’s 2010 Holiday Tour, world-renowned Maestro Steven Mercurio returns to mesmerize the orchestra, soloists, and opera-loving cobras with each whisk of his wand after conducting last season’s acclaimed performance of Carmen.
Two of Christian music’s most iconic artists, Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith join forces to spread the good news, leading congregations in melodious worship on their 2 Friends Tour. Since 1982, this dynamic duo has engaged millions to flock to their catchy, ecclesiastical pop music, sharing a musical camaraderie as impenetrable as a fortress with abandonment issues. Amy Grant, author of No. 1 hits such as “El Shaddai” and “Baby Baby,” has shared her gift of song for more than 30 years, selling more than 30 million albums, garnering six Grammys, and earning a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Michael W. Smith has earned countless accolades with his tremendous songbook of head-bobbing hymns and choir-rousing hits. Sharing the stage for the first time in two decades, Amy and Michael thrill fans with new psalms and favorites from their sonic scroll, merging their sets with joyful duets and chemistry that crackles like Abbott and Costello after getting struck by lightning.
At Let's Paint Wichita, owner Melodee Schaefer and instructor Cassie Bouchereau break down the barriers between beginners and painting fetching masterpieces. In relaxed classes, guests armed with brushes, canvases, and aprons build paintings such as van Gogh’s Starry Night with the help of step-by-step instruction. The studio hosts everything from drop-in classes, complete with wine and beer for purchase, to private parties for kids. Students leave the studio with their own works of art and a wealth of new painting techniques.