The Chiefs are taking the NFL beyond football with community-centered learning programs and an art collection that showcases local talent.
By Kathryn Greene
Every Kansas Citian is familiar with the Chiefs to varying degrees from the team colors and theme song to the current roster and new draft picks. But what you might not know is that the team went beyond the scope of football to create unparalleled programs that enrich creativity in the community and promote learning.
For instance, The Arrowhead Art Collection, which is the first of its kind in the NFL, showcases the work and talent of local artists. Bill Chapin, senior vice president of business operations for the Chiefs, describes their latest endeavor by referencing Lamar Hunt, the founder of the Chiefs.
“His vision has always been that Arrowhead Stadium is a resource for everyone in Kansas City and in the Chiefs Kingdom,” Chapin says. “It is a resource for all to enjoy and to learn from, and to be a public forum.”
It is from this vision that The Arrowhead Art Collection became a reality through the combined efforts of the Hunt family, art experts from the Kansas City Art Institute, the Barton P. and Mary D. Cohen Charitable Trust, the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.
Artists were called across a six-state region, including Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Oklahoma and Arkansas, to submit creations to help assemble a world-class collection of artwork. Lamar Hunt’s daughter, Sharron Hunt, serves as the chairwoman of the Arrowhead Art Collection, which currently stands at more than 25 pieces ranging from photography to paintings to large sculptures and triptychs.
One of the featured artists, Matthew Dehaemers, who contributed “The Power of Twelve” to the collection, shares the insight behind his piece, which encapsulates Lamar Hunt’s wishes for Arrowhead Stadium.
“The artistic vision stands for the historical foundation of the Chiefs,” Dehaemers explains. “It reflects the complex construction of a successful team aided by the undying support of the 12th man. The heartbeat of this organization, once created by the seeds of Lamar Hunt, lives on strong today [and is] sustained by the ownership, front office, players and the fans.”
The Arrowhead Art Collection is proudly displayed in select spaces inside and outside of Arrowhead Stadium. “Arrowhead Stadium, which is already a cultural asset, is now even more of a cultural asset … because there are works of art that can be enjoyed, appreciated and looked at by the public,” he states.
Not only is the artwork there to be enjoyed by all, it’s intended to provide a learning experience as well. The Chiefs are the first NFL team to develop a curriculum that meets core education standards for teachers. Approved by both Kansas and Missouri school boards, teachers in grades 2 through 8 will be able to bring their students to the stadium to see the Arrowhead Art Collection and receive an art curriculum handbook that takes the experience beyond viewing.
Students will learn about the artists’ inspiration behind their work to gain a deeper understanding of art and how it fits into the region’s physical and cultural landscape, while also triggering their own imaginations. “Not only will it meet the educational needs of students, but just as importantly, it will help develop appreciation of the art and the expansion of the creativity of the young kids,” Chapin says.
The future of the Arrowhead Art Collection is very bright, according to Chapin. “The Hunt family will continue to grow the collection, and there is no limit in the sense of the number of pieces,” he says. “As more people find out about it, we have people approaching us and saying, ‘Hey, I’d like you to consider this in the program.’”
In addition to The Arrowhead Art Collection, there is a Sports Lab attached to Arrowhead Stadium—another program that is the first and only of its kind in the NFL. The Sports Lab teaches children about health, safety, nutrition and how exercise helps the human body.
It is cutting-edge programs like these that are taking the Chiefs and Arrowhead Stadium beyond football by reaching out to the community in creative and unprecedented ways thereby forging Kansas City’s reputation as an innovation hub.
For more information on The Arrowhead Art Collection, visit www.goarrowhead.com/kcchiefs-art-program/