In 1994, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art installed the world’s largest shuttlecocks in its Sculpture Park. Designed by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, a husband-and-wife artist team, the four shuttlecocks stand at 18-feet tall and are made out of aluminum, fiberglass, and reinforced plastic. The duo incorporated the museum grounds into the design by imagining the neoclassical building as a badminton net and scattering the birdies across the manicured lawn. Oldenburg and van Bruggen’s sculptures fueled controversy. Critics believed that the shuttlecocks–mundane objects–had no place in an art museum. Today, the shuttlecocks are the Nelson-Atkins Museum’s largest permanent installation.

The once-controversial modern art pieces are now ingrained into Kansas City’s fabric. The shuttlecocks are often featured on t-shirts, decals, billboards, and tourist advertisements, and have become a cultural symbol recognized by Kansas Citians, Missourians, and Midwesterners. The sculptures not only represent a world-renowned art institution, but they also embody a sense of hometown pride.

Object Details

Categories: Arts & Culture

Creator: Claes Oldenburg, Coosje van Bruggen

Date: 1994

Subject: Art museums

Contributing Institution: Springfield-Greene County Library District

Copy Request: The Springfield-Greene County Library District offers broad public access to its collection to enhance education and scholarship. Written permission is required for distribution, reproduction, or other use of protected images(s) beyond that allowed by fair use or other statutory exemptions. For more information on using this image, contact the Springfield-Greene County Library District.

Rights: The Springfield-Greene County Library District does not hold copyright on many of the materials in the Local History & Genealogy collection. Patrons assume all responsibility for obtaining the necessary permissions for publication and further use, and assume sole responsibility for any infringement of the literary rights, copyrights, or other rights which pertain to these materials.

County: Jackson

Region: Kansas City Metro

Type: Photograph

Latitude: 39.042348

Longitude: -94.581090

Photographer: Ellie Burke

Photograph Date: 2021