In 1986, aviation enthusiasts Dick McMahon and Larry Brown embarked on a mutually shared dream: find and restore a Lockheed Super G Constellation. Long gone from the friendly skies, the “Connie,” as the aircraft is known to aficionados and flirtatious air traffic controllers, was once a sight to behold––a beautiful mix of mechanical power and graceful design. After much sleuthing, the pair managed to locate a 1958 model in Mesa, Arizona, acquire it from the storage facility in which it lived, and transporting it to Hangar 9 at the Kansas City Downtown Airport for refurbishment.
Thus was established the National Airline History Museum, a passion project that grew over the ensuing decades to fill three museum rooms with airline artifacts and ephemera. Inside, visitors mine the rich history of commercial flight as they view early photographs and exchange the latest jokes about airline food. They even have the opportunity to walk through several of the aircraft in the hangar, including a 1941 Douglas DC-3 and a 1952 Martin 404 in addition to the famed Lockheed Constellation.
American Jazz Museum’s annual Rhythm & Ribs Jazz and Blues Festival is a one-day music extravaganza that colludes the talents of soulful singers, strummers, horn blowers, and string twangers across three performance stages. Headlining the event, the seven-member band War (10 p.m.–11:30 p.m.) blasts its funk melodies into the air. Before War takes the stage, Bobby “Blue” Bland (7:30 p.m.–9 p.m.) serenades the audience with sultry favorites, such as his rendition of Bill Withers' “Ain’t No Sunshine,” after Christian McBride with Inside Straight (5 p.m.–6:30 p.m.) cues the miniature musician living inside his standup bass to play a euphony of soul. Throughout the day, patrons can indulge in fare from local food vendors (not included with this Groupon) such as City Bar-B-Q, snacking until their fingers are covered with enough sauce to ensure easy snapping.
This duo of history-rich houses showcase antebellum architectural styles, while providing insight into the mores of the era. With four tour tickets total, the historically inclined can visit each house twice or bring a friend along for each visit, while family memberships net unlimited entries for the nuclear unit, along with advance invites to special society-only events. A Greek revival-style home from 1858, the John Wornall House beckons history lovers in to watch costumed reenactors living in the past, where they play period-specific video games while drinking period-specific Mountain Dew. Regular special events at the house include paranormal investigations by local ghost hunters and recreations of the house’s past as a Civil War hospital. Dogs can sprint across the lush grounds while their two-legged companions waft in luscious scents from the herb garden, which contains a variety of delicate plants used in medicines and recipes.
KCYA’s mission is to engage all youth in the arts, promote creativity, and inspire success in education. Founded in 1961, KCYA partners with professional teaching artists to deliver arts based programs to children and youth. KCYA is the largest provider of arts programs in the Kansas City area.
Grabbing the top spot in CityVoter’s 2009 Best Museum poll, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art serves as Kansas City’s intersection of art, culture, and history. Boasting more than 33,500 pieces and art objects, the museum’s vast collections are organized by period, geography, and medium and feature everything from photographs to sculpture to haunted portraits with eyes that follow visitors around the room. Rotating exhibitions encourage return visits, like a sentient boomerang that grabs your hand and refuses to let go. The current exhibit, Solitary: Alienation in Modern Life, explains away loneliness with works from artists including Henri Matisse, Otto Dix, and Paul Klee, who moonlighted as a self-help guru and was the first to posit that men and women may be space aliens hailing from separate planets. This Saturday, the museum opens two new exhibitions, Through African Eyes: The European in African Art, 1500 to Present and Romancing the West: Alfred Jacob Miller in the Bank of America Collection, which members get to see for free.
With 41,500 square feet dedicated to men's collegiate basketball, The College Basketball Experience provides hours of all-ages amusement. Learn about influential hoop-dreamers in the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame, and rediscover and get schooled in key moments in Kansas City's role in shaping the game. Visitors can also participate in hands-on, interactive exhibits that place them in front and at the center of the courtside action, from announcing plays to sinking game-winning shots.