Holy Toledo–Art at the Toledo Museum of Art

By Brian Aldaco

After four days of researching the Vagabonds with Jeff Guinn and Jim Fuquay at the Henry Ford Museum, other attractions were bound to be something of a let down.  But the Toledo Museum of Art offered a surprisingly nice collection and a truly inspired special exhibit by Jaume Plensa.

With a Greek entrance of white marble pillars, artistically grand in its own right, the art within was just as impressive. However, before viewing the fine arts we examined the art of the political campaign thanks to the museum’s special exhibit I Approve this Message: Decoding Political Ads.

Political Ads, Toledo Museum of Art
Paul Oliver Examines Political Ads at the Toledo Museum of Art

As political science majors, Brian and Paul ventured through the floor to examine such ads as Reagan’s “The Bear” ad . This ad showcased a prowling bear through the forest and a man who forces the beast to retreat by standing up to it. Thanks to the exhibit’s captions we discovered that the bear was a symbol for Russia, thus the ad implied that Ronald Reagan’s strong will would be able to defeat the Russian menace of the time. So being we went over our president’s ads and those who had gone against them during the age of Television.

Toledo Museum of Art
                                            Brian Aldaco Runs for Office with Unfortunate Results

Leaving the floor we walked to the east wing to view the contemporary art. There we saw works by various renowned artists such as Pablo Picasso…

Picasso, Toledo Museum of Art
Picasso, in his Blue Period

…Chuck Close…

Chuck Close, Toledo Museum of Art
Chuck Close Artwork

…Childe Hassam…

Childe Hassam, Toledo Museum of Art

…Claude Monet…


…as well as Alexander Calder, Henry Moore, and Louise Nevelson.


There was a sense of satisfaction in being able to recognize these and other artists from within the collection.

To appreciate the sculpture garden, we stepped outside to view a George Rickey silver mobile…


…Tony Smith’s Moses…


and other sculptures…


…most notably those of Jaume Plensa (who had a whole floor dedicated to his work inside the museum.)


But before examining the indoors art, we sat on a very peculiar Polar Bear Bench by artist Judy McKie.


Not only did this sculpture offer an appropriate resting spot, it also allowed us to find a glass walled building from which the interior glistened with hues of clear, colorful glass. Upon further inspection, with a silver Chihuly hanging from the ceiling…


…we entered the museum’s annexed Glass Pavilion. Inside we found a wide assortment of glass sculptures from the quirky glass moquettes of modern venues by Emily Brock to Roman glass decor dating back to the 4th century (all in the pristine condition from when it was first blown!) It was clear that the glass blowing techniques of the time were advanced, a technique that we witnessed inside the pavilion.


Apart from the beautiful art within the exhibit hall, there is also a glass blowing workshop.


Inside the room stand ovens heating up to a temperature of about 2150 degrees fahrenheit, undoubtedly no ordinary oven. However, these high temperatures are essential for molding the crystalline medium. So much is the nicety to keep the glass at near melting condition that if its temperate cools off before the intended time, the modeling tools can break the glass and ruin the whole sculpture. As the team of sculptures, on who molded the glowing vase and another who blew at it to expand it from the rod’s other end, continued their process of inserting the glass in the oven followed by a spinning of the material to give it its shape, we left the workshop to view the rest of the museum on its main campus.

Upon entrance to the museum we turned to the opposite wing of which we had already toured. With pieces from Van Gogh, Claude Monet, Paul Signac…


…and Piet Mondrian.


…we wandered through the canvasses of bright colors, swift burst strokes, and dream-like landscapes onto a grand hall of a more a classic collection. Under the twinkling chandelier the prominence of the works exhibited were accentuated to create an effect of awe. With works by Ralph Albert Blakelock, El Greco, and   we moved through the hall into a vast room with elongated heads of women.


Even though the sight may sound a bit macabre, the warmly lit room featured the works of Jaume Plensa and created a near meditative trance.


Perhaps the most appealing may have been Silent Rain. With fragments from poems attached to wires hanging from the ceiling, creating an effect of raining phrases, we were astounded.


We felt a similar pleasure and wonder from Plensa’s See no Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil


…but whether it was a sculpture or painting from Plensa the same was true.


His works are successful in priming the viewer into a meditative reflection on the human spirit and expression.


So much were we drawn to each piece that soon the doors around us were being locked, lights were being shut off, and halls were flooded with darkness. The museum was closing, therefore we left the campus to complete our evening’s drive to our resting spot. After driving through the night scene of Rutherford B. Hayes’ home in Fremont, Ohio, we reached our hotel in Milan, Ohio. So being, we finished another exciting, educational day of our return-to-home part of the trip, with high spirits and persistent a strong will to continue our LEAP adventures.

Jaume Plensa, Tree Huggers, Toledo Museum of Art
                                                                            Jaume Plensa’s Tree Huggers

OKC and KC are OK–and More!

Today the LEAP Center got an early start (5:30 in the morning!) to our trip to Michigan. We are heading north to assist author Jeff Guinn in researching a group called the Vagabonds. This team of influential businessmen and geniuses, including Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, John Burroughs, and Harvey Firestone, would go on road trips across America during the summer months, just like we are today! Also like the Vagabonds, we not only have a final destination in mind, but we are willing to take in the sights along the way. In the spirit of our mission, we made our first pit stop in Oklahoma City.

Oklahoma City Museum of Art

As we approached the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, we were captivated by the building’s clear facade through which we could see a long, colorful glass sculpture true to Dale Chihuly’s style. Upon entering we were able to get a better view of the piece. As we ventured through the third floor, which showcased modern artists, we made our way to the Chihuly exhibit. With the room kept in low lighting, the vibrant colors of blown glass, warped into various shapes and sizes, were accentuated.

Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Dale Chihuly
                                                           Brian Aldaco Admires Chihuly’s Glasswork

This left us in more awe as we admired his works of art,

Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Dale Chihuly

…which included not only his bowl collection, but also his “Persian Ceiling”….

Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Dale Chihuly, Persian Ceiling

…and “Reeds.”

Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Dale Chihuly, Reeds

Venturing into the lower floor, we were able to explore more American and international art. Exhibited in this floor were works by Georgia O’Keeffe, John Cage, Roy Lichtenstein, an Alexander Calder mobile…

Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Alexander Calder, Mobile
Ryan and Brian (B-Ryan, as we call them) Construct a Mobile

…Charles Willson Peale…

Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Charles Willson Peale, George Washington
Charles Willson Peale’s George Washington

Thomas Moran…

Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Thomas Moran
Thomas Moran’s “Grand Venice Canal”

…and a nice wing on WPA art…


…just to name a few. Surrounded by the works of such great artists we left with an improved cultural wealth.

Apart from this, during our Oklahoma City visit we also chased after historical wealth by visiting the Land Run Monument. With 38 different bronze frontiersmen (or Sooners) as a representation of the state’s rush of immigrants eager to receive land in the 1889 Land Run, the monument has become the longest series of sculptures in the world. Strolling among the giant rushing horses and wagons, artistically molded by sculptor Paul Moore to keep a perpetual sense of urgency, we were also inspired to get on the road towards our next city of our Midwestern tour.

Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City

After crossing the Kansas-Missouri border onto Kansas City, we soon arrived at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art. With the ground ornamented with various sculptures…

Louise Bourgeois, Kemper Museum of Art, Spider
Louise Bourgeois’s “Spider Mother”

…from a giant spider to a crying giant, the interior works of art were just as intriguing. We were treated to another Chihuly…

Kemper Museum, KC, Dale Chihuly
One of the Kemper’s Three Dale Chiluhy Sculptures

…as well as myriad national and international artists.  The museum offered a sense of different disciplines practiced within the contemporary arts community. Among the ones included inside the facility were mixed media formats, photography, glass media, and various other forms of unconventional, at times whimsical forms of expression.  Unfortunately, we visited when two of the four galleries were closed for installations, so our visit was only half fulfilled.

Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

This, however, left us more time at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, which is only a short walk from the Kemper. The Nelson-Atkins museum has a copious outdoor green space, populated by pieces of statuary. Perhaps the most renowned piece present on the museum grounds is Auguste Rodin’s “The Thinker.”

Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Rodin, Thinker
Rodin’s Thinker

Other works included various pieces by Henry Moore…

Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Henry Moore, Reclining Figure
Henry Moore’s “Reclining Figure”

…a glass maze called the “Glass Labyrinth” (by Robert Morris),

Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Robert Morris, Glass Labyrinth
Robert Morris’s “Glass Labyrinth”

…”Three Bowls” by Ursula von Rydingsvard, which, in addition to being three-dimensional art, also possesses a distinctive smell, giving the art a multi-faceted interaction with the senses…

Ursula von Rydingsvard, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Three Bowls

We also saw one of George Rickey’s kinetic pieces of art…

Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City, George Rickey

Most curiously, we also saw four giant shuttlecocks, one of the many quirky creations of sculptors Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen…

Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Shuttlecock


With just 30 minutes left before the museum closed, we headed inside to take a look at their exhibits. We had the fortune to enter near the Roman and Medieval pieces, giving us a taste of a very different art style from the contemporary and modern works we had viewed at the other museums. After perusing some of the 19th-century masters such as Claude Monet…

Claude Monet, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City

…and Vincent Van Gogh…

Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Vincent Van Gogh

…we headed to the “Naguchi Sculpture Court,”


Isamu Naguchi, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Naguchi Court
“Six Foot Energy Void” by Isamu Naguchi

which showcases seven of the artists’ works in one room.

And with the closing of the Museum, we took one last look around the park before heading back to the van and driving towards out next stop: dinner!

Grunauer and Union Station

To wrap up our first day, we ate at a German restaurant called Grünauer. We started out with Jausenbrettl, a sampler platter of German meats. We split several entrées including Jäger Schnitzel Vom Schwein (pork scallopini with spätzle), Schweinebraten (roast pork loin and shoulder with red cabbage), and Bauernschmaus (smoked pork loin, bacon, and a bratwurst with sauerkraut), but the best part by far was the apple strudel and Nutella crepes we had for desert.

Since Union Station was so near, we decided to walk through and around it to walk off the huge meal we had just ate. It is still in operation to this day and still beautiful…

Union Station, Kansas City
Union Station in Kansas City

and has seen many famous celebrities and presidents come through, such as Eisenhower, FDR, and Truman. As we left the station via a bridge which stood over a system of railways (with a passenger train ready to depart and a resting open-top freight cart anticipating it’s delivery), we took in the city’s nocturnal, tranquil ambiance. Thus we satisfyingly completed the first day of our Vagabond research trip.


Midwest Trip, Day 9: Doing OK in Oklahoma


After nine days on the road, we were limping home somewhat, anxious to get back to our studies and our own beds.  But we ended our trip on another high note, and used the drive for time to reflect on a trip of epic proportions.

The high point was the Oklahoma City of Art Museum, which has one of the largest Chihuly collections in the United States.  You don’t have to wait long at the Museum to see a Chihuly.

OKCMA_Chihuly_Tower_WebIn fact, the Museum entrance has the largest Chihuly in the world.  It is more than 80 feet tall, composed of more than 2,100 pieces of glass, and it weighs more than 20,000 pounds.  It is equally imposing and impressive.

Although it might be difficult to top the entrance, the Chihuly exhibits are all impressive, displying “Reeds”…


OKCMA_Chihuly_Red_Bowls_Web…more bowls…


Chihuly_Row_Boats_Web…Chihuly ceilings…

OKCMA_Chihuly_Ceiling_Constance_Alex_Web…and Chihuly wall art…


Of course, the Art Museum had the traditional art as well…

OKCMA_Modern_Gallery_Floor_Web…including Constance’s favorite O’Keefe…

OKCMA_Okeefe_Calla_Lily_Web…one of the Dallas Nine, Alexandre Hogue…

OKCMA_Hogue_Soil_Subsoil_Web…and for Political Science students, a portrait of George Washington…

OKCMA_Peale_Washington_WebBut following a little play time…

OKCMA_Crafts_Alex_Constance_Web…it was time to go home.

It was a long drive back from OK City, but it gave us time to reflect on the trip and restructure our thinking about food, art, entertainment, livable cities, and life.  In so doing, we came up with a list of favorites we’d like to share.Old_Mill_Alex_Constance_Bridge_2_Web

Favorite Cities:

  1. Little Rock
  2. Chicago
  3. Kansas City (Constance); Madison, WI (Alex)

Favorite Restaurants:

  1. Grunauer’s (Austrian food in the heart of KC)
  2. Q39 (Our favorite of KC BBQ)
  3. DLUX (American food in Madison–great shakes!)

Favorite Attractions (Here, we had real disagreements!):

  • Constance
  1. Richard Haas Murals
  2. Union Station
  3. Lincoln Presidential Library
  • Alex
  1. Lincoln Presidential LibraryLincoln_Statue_Alex_Web
  2. Art Institute of Chicago
  3. Old Mill

Favorite Art:

  • Constance
  1. Red Hill with Flowers, O’Keefe
  2. Yellow Dancers, Degas
  3. Reeds, ChihulyOKCMA_Chiluly_Alex_Constance_1_Web
  • Alex
  1. Monet
  2. Pisarro
  3. Chihuly


Both Constance and I, however, agree that touring Loyola Law School with Daniel North was one of our most rewarding experiences.  He laid out the material very clearly, told us information we haven’t heard from others, and was genuinely nice.

Daniel_Constance_AlexIt was great to connect with a former Junior Fellow!

The whole trip was a great experience, whether walking the bridges of Little Rock…

Junction_Bridge_Sculpture_Night_Web…checking out City Garden in St. Louis…

City_Garden_Night_Constance_Alex_Web…hanging with President Lincoln in Springfield, IL…

Alex_Lincoln_4_Web…jumping at the bean in Chicago…

Bean_Alex_Jumping_Mike_Web…discovering the capitol in WI….

Capitol_Constance_Alex_2_Web…crawling the incline in Dubuque…

…playing American Gothic…

American_Gothic_Alex_Constance_2_Web…learning about a bit of everything in KC…

Da_Vinci_Exhibit_Last_Supper_Alex_Web…and chilling with Chihuly in OK City.

OKCMA_Chihuly_Tower_Constance_Alex_1_WebIt was a great ride!

Midwest Tour, Day 7: Going to Kansas City, Kansas City Here We Come

We left Madison bright and early this morning to get a head start on the day’s heavy amount of driving. Before completely departing the capitol, however, we stopped by a “lost” Richard Haas mural.  Haas completed this mural in 1987 and it beautified an already beautiful city for almost a decade.  In the 1990s, however, Madison decided to revive a Frank Lloyd Wright design for the City–Monona Terrace.  In completing the Wright design, the Haas mural was relegated to the side of a tunnel wall.  Not made to be seen in tunnel, and obscured by newly installed load-bearing columns for the overpass, the Haas mural of Wisconsin’s history is all but destroyed.  Still, we discovered vestiges of it.


With that sad sight in mind, we began the winding drive to Dubuque, Iowa. Dubuque, a small town along the Mississippi, was founded in 1833 and is home to an incline that gives panoramic views of the surrounding area. We arrived at the bottom of the incline, nervous (editor’s note: mostly Constance was nervous) about the rickety tram that would take us up the steep embankment.


We piled in, however nervous we may have been, and slowly made it up the hill.

The anticipation was worth it in the end, as we were able to look out over the Iowa hillside and appreciate the breathtaking view…

Dubuque_Skyline_Web…and take photos…

…and more photos…

Dubuque_Incline_Constance_Alex_2_Web…and more photos…


…and to see how far we had come up the mountain.

Dubuque_Incline_Tracks_WebAfter a couple pictures, we rode down in the tram once more to find solace in the warmth of the minivan.

By the end, we (Constance, especially) were proud of the trip up and back!


We then drove to the gravesite of Dubuque’s founding father, Julien Dubuque. The grave, memorialized by a turret-like structure, sits on the edge of a mountain along the Mississippi.


We braved the semi-cold to appreciate the view of Dubuque and the fall colors of the area. Dubuque, who maintained a healthy relationship with the local Native American tribe, rests near the grave of Chief Peosta’s, leader of the Meskwaki tribe (and Dubuque’s father-in-law).

Dub uque_Peosta_Grave_Web

We snapped a couple pictures of the mighty Mississippi…

Dubuque_Monument_Constance_Alex_Web…with and without us…

Dubuque_Monument_Overlook_Web…and then headed back to the car for our next stop.


After a few hours, we stopped for lunch at Her Soup Kitchen. A small, local eatery, the restaurant boasts local, fresh ingredients, which we enjoyed immensely. The cold weather made the soup even more delectable, as we warmed up from the inside, out.


It was a neat place to eat, and we hope that the place thrives!

With a warm midwestern meal in our stomachs, we headed to not only an icon of the midwest, but an icon of the American scene: The American Gothic house.


Painted by Grant Wood, “American Gothic” remains a well-known art piece to Americans and foreigners alike. We were lucky enough to catch the piece at the Chicago Art Institute…


…and this made visiting the home all the more rewarding.  Although it rests in a small town, a visitor’s center and Grant Wood museum accompany the site of the home.

We walked in and promptly began putting on costumes to impersonate the couple in the photo. Once dressed, we posed in front of the home with the most convincing faces we could muster up which seemed a harder task than once originally expected!

American_Gothic_Alex_Constance_2_WebSwitching costumes, we continued the photo opportunity in opposite outfits but still finding it difficult to portray the seriousness Wood intended. All silliness aside, it was exciting being able to reenact history after seeing the original painting in Chicago.

We headed inside to the museum to learn a bit more about the artist himself. Born in 1891 in Anamosa, Iowa, Mr. Wood lived a very interesting life. A teacher, soldier, and artist at last, Grant Wood studied impressionism and post-impressionism in Europe and became the artist we know today under these occupations. Friend of Thomas Hart Benton and John Steuart Curry, Wood practiced the art of Regionalism with his colleagues, whom we have also had the chance of viewing at other museums this trip. Although posthumously famous, Wood lived a fairly middle-class life and supported his hometown through the Great Depression by opening the Stone City Art Colony. He married, divorced, and died one day away from fifty-one from pancreatic cancer. We left a bit more knowledgeable about the artist and having enjoyed the driving break, got back on the road to finish the drive to Kansas City.

Once we arrived in Kansas City, we took advantage of the late closing hours of the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art and The Nelson-Atkins Art Museum. While walking up to the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art we were greeted by one of Louise Bourgeois famous giant spider sculptures.

Segway_Kemper_Burgeoise_2_WebThe Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art had a “Dark Days, Bright Nights: Contemporary Paintings from Finland” exhibition while we were there that had a dark motif. As we walked through the temporary exhibit we had some group favorites such as “Canary” by Vesa-Pekka Rannikko ,which used ropes to complete its illusion. Another group favorite was “Cottage” by Nanna Susi.


Constance was pleased to see one of Georgia O’Keefe’s early paintings as well. I think that the highlight of the museum was the two Dale Chihuly pieces that were on displays at the Kemper Museum of contemporary Art.


We then walked over to the Nelson-Atkins Art Museum’s south entrance, which featured Rodin’s “Thinker”. With the museum closing soon, we were only able to walk through a part of the massive building. Even though we only had a short amount of time, we did spot some great pieces. We were able to see some more of Georgia O’Keefe’s floral paintings…


and another titled “Autumn Trees”.  One of Professor Yawn’s favored pieces included “Utah Highlands” painted by Thomas Hart Benton.


We also found an interesting transformation piece in the Asian art gallery that showed a mountainside changing seasons. We ended our self-guided tour of the museum in the Contemporary Art gallery where we saw Andy Warhol’s very famous “Campbell’s Soup Can” along with other interesting pieces.


Hungry, we raced down to Grunauer for dinner. We tried three different sausages and some pork belly before our main course.

Grunaeur_AppetizersConstance and I shared the A la Grunauer Schnitzel. The schnitzel was breaded pork stuffed with creamed spinach, and tasted amazing. Our entrees were delicious and we ended our dinner with an apple strudel.


After an amazing and very filling dinner, we walked over to Union Station.


We were able to stand on one of the walking bridges just in time for the train to speed right below us. After exploring and taking a few pictures in the beautiful building, we were ready for a good nights rest so that we could start our morning bright and early.

LEAP Center Midwestern Tour (Day 6): Kansas City

We started our day in Independence, Missouri, with hot chocolate, mocha, coffee, and various pastries at Home Sweet Home Bakery in town. The hostess was welcoming, had an interesting haircut, and was very helpful.

Following breakfast, we headed to the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library, starting with a short movie that introduced us to how Truman came to be, from his life in Independence as a young boy up until his career as 33rd President of the United States.


The Library features various exhibits, including parts of his personal diary, and pictures from his presidency.

Harry Truman Library, With Mural by Thomas Hart Benton
Harry Truman Library, With Mural by Thomas Hart Benton

One favorite picture of the group was the famous “Dewey Defeats Truman” news headline in which Truman holds the Chicago Daily Tribune with an erroneous headline that indicated Dewey had defeated Truman in the 1948 election.  Truman is laughing in the picture, clearly celebrating his victory and ready to begin his second term. The Library also features an original of the newspaper that was published in 1948.


The Library’s largest exhibit is “The Presidential Years,” featuring videos, Truman’s personal diary, newspaper covers, and other artifacts depicting his presidential years. One interesting feature of the Library was the replica of the Oval Office during Truman’s presidency. Also interesting was a documentary on the Cold War, which was very informative.


Another favorite exhibit, also of the newspaper variety, included a display of enlarged newspaper covers, presented in chronological order, and featuring headlines such as “ROOSEVELT IS DEAD: TRUMAN TAKES OATH,” and “FIRST ATOMIC BOMB DROPPED ON JAPAN.” Finally, we took pictures with Truman’s statue…

Truman_Girls…and we visited the graves of him and his wife, Bess Wallace.

After visiting the Library, we headed to the Truman Home. Even though the Trumans were not wealthy, the house is far from modest. In fact, the house belonged to Bess’s family, which was wealthy. A wraparound porch surrounds most of the house, and stained glass windows front the house.


The guide led us into the kitchen, which is very modest, with furniture and wallpaper that reflect 1950s style. The chairs, counters, table, and cupboards are all painted apple green, a popular color at the time.

The rest of the house is filled with wooden furniture and golden interiors. The second floor is closed to the public, so we only visited the dining room, Truman’s studio, the two living rooms, and the main hallway. In the larger living room, used for special occasions and guests, is a portrait of Harry, while in the family living room hangs a portrait of Bess. The portrait liked most was in the main hallway, of Margaret Truman, their daughter and only child. At the end of the tour, more pictures in front of the house, and then on to our next destination, Kansas City.

It was lunchtime, and we had to eat Kansas City style barbecue! Our research led us to try Oklahoma Joe’s Kansas City Barbecue, rated the number one place for barbecue in KC. We arrived at a very long line outside the restaurant and decided to utilize our backup plan. We headed to Fiorella’s Jack Shack.

Fiorella’s Jack Shack was voted by The Zagat to be one of the best places to eat in Kansas City; but, we were not impressed. We faced a wait of 30 minutes, at least that was the story according to the waittress. An hour and fifteen minutes later, and after some slight vocalization of our displeasure, we were seated. Overall, the food was average.  The sliced pork was above average and the beans were good, but the bulk of the meats were no better than you can find in Huntsville.

We had a negative experience at lunch, but we would not let lunch defeat us! We headed over to the World War I Museum with full stomachs, armed with curiosity. The Museum was beautiful and showcased the Monument in a spectacular way.


The inside of the Museum had a glass floor that led from the main entrance to the museum exhibits, showcasing poppies commemorating those fallen in World War I. Each of the 9,000 poppies in the display represented 1,000 fallen soldiers. Walking across the glass floor and seeing the poppies below really demonstrated the vastness and destruction of World War I.


There were several great exhibits. One of the most interesting and informative was on wartime weapons development. The war started with very basic weapons; however, many developments were made in terms of weaponry and battle strategy. One particularly effective strategy was camouflage. The British would paint their ships in various patterns that they pulled from Cubist paintings to confuse enemies and make it harder to track the ship’s speed and course.

In terms of weaponry, countries were still in the early development stages. The first machine guns were poorly designed and very slow – but the Germans developed the German Maxim machine gun that performed fast, concise and very well. Grenades were also introduced in World War I and made trench warfare brutal. Various gases were used as well, making World War I a chemical war. Other developments such as tanks and submarines changed transportation for troops during the war and helped improve reconnaissance efforts.


We closed down the World War I Museum and continued our exploration of KC starting from the top of the museum, which is the bottom of the 265-foot tall Liberty Memorial. We walked up the stairs to the Liberty Memorial and were astonished at the view: the entire skyline of Kansas City.


After taking several pictures of the skyline (selfies and groupies), we walked the several blocks to Union Station. On our walk, we encountered a large field of grass with an American Flag in the middle: the perfect place for a race.  We had tried a race the night before, but because Professor Yawn left Silvia in the dust, he agreed to run backwards against her this time.  It was much closer this time, and Silvia edged out Yawn in a photo finish.

The Race!
The Race!

During the race, though, we stumbled upon a beautiful tree in full fall foliage, displaying red, orange and brown leaves like a proud peacock. The tree served as a perfect backdrop for more pictures of us as a group…


…and individually…


We finished our stroll in the brisk Kansas City air at Union Station, an historic train station. Built in 1914, the train hub is home to Amtrak, museum exhibits like Science City, and theaters. Awed by the extravagant architecture and design of the interior, it was interesting to learn that after being closed in 1985, $20M was spent on restoration of the building to recover it from its solitude and dilapidation.  Intriguingly, it’s still an active train station.


Historically, the KC Union Station was the second to be built in the country and followed Second Empire Style and Gothic Revival. After consuming all available space in the 1878 location and eventually flooding, the decision was made to move the station to its current location. Designed by Jarvis Hunt, the great hall with three massive chandeliers and ornate ceiling adornments is what we see today.


We were fortunate enough to be spectators to all the 100th year celebrations the Saturday evening held for Union Station. Drinking our coffee, we watched patron after patron stroll past, determination in their eyes, dressed in authentic 1920’s regalia. Unsure of what was happening, we followed a few to find, to our surprise, swing dance lessons going on. We watched, thankful for such perfect timing for something so entertaining.

With the sun setting…


…we hightailed it out of the enormous train station and headed back to the car in search of the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art. Sighting a Chihuly, we knew we had arrived at the home to many inspiring pieces of modern art.


We wandered through the museum, admiring exhibits such as Summoning Ghosts: The Art of Hung Liu, full of poignant, politically vocal pieces about communistic China, and Miss Your Mark, which sought to allow artists to make their mark using the manipulation of different materials.

We even explored the museum’s café, full of art by Frederick James Brown, which paid tribute to many artists throughout time. Our artistic appetite not quite satisfied, we left the Kemper and walked to the Donald J. Hall Sculpture Park, to appreciate the pieces by moonlight. Among those seen, our favorites included Shuttlecocks by Claes Oldenburg and Rodin’s Thinker. Although we had filled one appetite, our hunger made an appearance, so we left in search of sustenance.

An all-time favorite of our own Professor Yawn, we walked into Grunauer’s, not knowing what to expect. We quickly learned of the many Austrian delicacies available but had trouble narrowing it down to just a few. We began the meal with an assortment of sampler appetizers, including different kinds of cheeses, bratwursts, meats, and breads. Some of the unusual choices included currywurst, liverwurst, and brie. We downed the wonderful, new foods in preparation for the main course. Among some of the delectable entrees we enjoyed were Hungarian Beef Goulash, Cordon Bleu, Kasespatzle (noodles and cheese), and Fisch im Strudelteig-a fish baked in pastry adorned with spinach and mushrooms.

Stuffed to the gills, we surprisingly found room for apple strudel, chocolate cake, and nutella crepes for dessert, much to our full bellies’ dismay. Such an enjoyable end to an exciting day, we loaded up in the car to make our way to Bentonville, Arkansas for our final day of the Midwestern Tour.