New ‘Walking Wall’ project at Nelson-Atkins will block traffic, raising some concerns

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A new piece at the Nelson-Atkins Museum has art-lovers excited, but the traveling installation also has some Kansas City residents concerned.

"The Walking Wall," a wall made of stone, will have five different locations over time. The project will take 10 months, and for three weeks, it will block access to Rockhill Road.

That part of the artwork, made by Andy Goldsworthy, is bringing concern for some neighbors.

The project will start in a grass lot in early March. From May 12 through June 3, the "Walking Wall" will block off Rockhill Road.

"The road closure will kind of make people slow down, and maybe that’s a little bit of a hint," said Steve Waterman, Nelson-Atkins director of design and experience. "I think the work is best appreciated it when you slow down a little bit and think about it maybe from a poetic perspective."

Waterman said it's an honor to have an installment done by Goldsworthy. The artist typically works with elements found in nature.

"He wants the piece to react to the environment that it’s in," he said.

Waterman and the museum met with residents of Rock Hill and Southmoreland to make sure the walking wall could be appreciated and not seen as an inconvenience.

"Personally I’m very excited about it," said Jamie Closson, president of the Rockhill Homes Association. "A lot of the other neighbors are, too."

Closson is looking forward to the Walking Wall, but says neighbors had some concerns.

"We want to make sure that emergency vehicles can get through the neighborhood without any trouble as needed," Closson said. "Just mainly security, safety and traffic and the temporary disruption."

Closson and other residents first met with the museum in October and presented a list of those concerns. Officials with Kansas City said the plan is to route people around on Oak Street, on the west side of the museum. First responders will be notified of the street closure ahead of time.

"Hopefully it will be so much easier than people think," Closson said.

The Walking Wall will be made of five sections, up to 100 yards each. The museum invites people to see it in all it's phases.

"We really don’t often see a stone wall cross the road," Waterman said. "That alteration of what is normal to them might be the thing that begins to engage them."

During that three week and one day period, you can still access Rockhill Road if you live there. All other drivers will have to take a different way. The installment will move locations until Thanksgiving.

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