2014 KC Magazine City’s Best Awards: Arts

Best Venue for Performing Arts: Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts

The permanent home of the Kansas City Symphony, the Lyric Opera of Kansas City and the Kansas City Ballet, this visually stunning venue in the Crossroads also hosts a diverse array of one-off engagements as part of its “Kauffman Center Presents” and “National Geographic Live!” series. This year it also launched its new signature event, Eve, an amazing gala to ring in the New Year.

2nd Place: The Living Room  |  3rd Place: Starlight

Best Art Gallery: Hilliard Gallery

Founded 40 years ago, the gallery has weathered the fickle market and even a destructive flood to maintain its position in KC’s art scene. One of the largest galleries in the Crossroads Arts District, draws in hundreds of visitors during First Friday events.

2nd Place: Blue Gallery  |  3rd Place: Sherry Leedy

Best Place to Catch a Flick: Alamo Drafthouse

There’s one rule to remember at the Alamo: No talking or texting during the movies. Otherwise, anything goes—from special screenings of cult classics when the audience is encouraged to interact to themed dinners with menus created to tie in with the movie (blueberry pie during “Stand By Me,” for instance). Even catching the latest blockbuster is an occasion there, thanks to seat-side service of Alamo’s extensive menu, which ranges from flatbread pizzas to boozy milkshakes.

2nd Place: Dickinson Palazzo  |  3rd Place: Cinetopia

Best Art Museum & Best Visitor Experience: The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

The Nelson’s place in Kansas City’s cultural landscape cannot be matched. Every day visitors—both local and from all over the world—enjoy free access to the museum’s permanent collections and select special exhibitions, not to mention lectures and family activities.

The Nelson also offers studio classes and workshops focusing on arts and crafts for all ages. The wide-open lawn that stretches from the museum steps to Emanuel Cleaver II Boulevard is another big draw for visitors, whether they are simply lounging on the grass or taking photos with Claes Oldenburg’s iconic Shuttlecock sculptures

Art Museum 2nd Place: Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art; 3rd Place: Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art

Visitor Experience 2nd Place: Country Club Plaza; 3rd Place: World War I Museum

Best Small Music Venue: RecordBar

Attracting both local and national acts, this Westport venue can offer an intimate atmosphere for acoustic sets or pack in guests for rowdy, energy-filled standing-room-only performances. The craft beer and kicked-up bar food menus offer a reason to linger before or after the show.

2nd Place: Knuckleheads  |  3rd Place: Crossroads

Best Large Music Venue: Sprint Center

From music legends like Paul McCartney and Cher to new kids on the block like Miley Cyrus and One Direction—not to mention the New Kids on the Block themselves—the downtown arena is the place to see the hottest names in rock, pop, country and hip-hop.

2nd Place: Starlight Theatre  |  3rd Place: The Midland Theatre

See some of the other winners in our 2014 City’s Best Awards