Public Art

Merriam offers imaginative and inspirational art around every corner. Merriam City Council first established a five-year placemaking initiative in 2014. This public art program was designed to enhance public spaces around Merriam. Years later, Merriam is now home to many beautiful sculptures that visitors and residents can enjoy. 

Public Art Master Plan

Merriam City Councilmembers believe it's important to continue supporting the arts in our City and reestablished a five-year budget for public art in 2023. The Public Art Committee reformed to help determine what and where new works of art should go. Committee members are made up of community members and two City Councilmembers. The committee decided creating a Public Art Master Plan would help the city move forward with a public art program in a thoughtful and deliberate way. The planning process began in August 2023 and is scheduled to conclude in 2024. 

Public feedback is incredibly important to creating a master plan. A survey was available Oct. 4–27, and an Open House was held on Dec. 13 at the Merriam Community Center. The survey helped collect thoughts, feelings, and habits regarding current and future public art in Merriam. Participating in creating the master plan was for everyone - not only people who have a relationship to the arts. The process received feedback from a wide variety of people who live, work, and visit Merriam. 

 


Parade of Hearts

In its third and final year, the Parade of Hearts celebrates our diversity, unites communities, and supports nonprofits by placing 100 5-foot hearts designed by local artists throughout the Kansas City region.

Merriam received two Parade of Hearts sculptures. The hearts will be on display through August. 

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Artist: Kate E. Burke
Merriam Marketplace, 5740 Merriam Drive

With both sides covered in strawberries, it’s only fitting that this heart resides at the Merriam Farmers’ Market!

Artist Kate E. Burke said this piece honors the Strawberry Hill neighborhood with the image of ripe strawberries packed inside the heart.

“There is a thriving and engaging art scene growing in the Strawberry Hill neighborhood,” Burke said. “Along the edge and bottom is a nod to the Croatian immigrants who began settling this neighborhood back in the early 1900s.”

Burke said the embroidery pattern is inspired by the Croatian style of embroidery found on period folk clothing.

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Artist: Leah Dwyer
Merriam Historic Plaza, 6304 E. Frontage Road

Artist Leah Dwyer recently picked up crochet as a hobby and said she loves the way it connects to people in the present and is a way to honor and remember those who used it in the past as a tool.

One side of the heart depicts the KC laid on top a pattern of granny squares. 

“With crochet, I’ve always found it so interesting that such intricate, detailed, and large pieces can all be made out of a singular thread,” Dwyer said. “I find that that relates heavily to a city like Kansas City, although we all may feel separate from each other we all have that common thread of this city that ties us all together.”

The other side is a traditional cross stitch pattern of Home Sweet Home showing Union Station and Kansas City's founding year.

“I hope people walk away from this piece feeling a newfound sense of being at home, as well as a new appreciation for crochet and other yarn arts seeing all the different and fun ways they can be applied,” Dwyer said.

 


Public Art in Merriam

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Bask

2020
Artist: Blessing Hancock              
Merriam Community Center, 6040 Slater Street
            

The newest of Merriam's public art pieces, Bask is located in the courtyard of the Merriam Community Center. Using the sun and pools as inspiration, the artist created this series as it relates to the surrounding environment and community activities. The sculptures incorporate words collected from Merriam residents describing their community. The sculpture comes alive with color-changing lighting at night.


 

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Downtown Merriam Mural

2000
Artist: Michael Young  
Merriam Community Center, 6040 Slater Street
            

This mural by Michael Young shows a replica of downtown Merriam, circa 1940. The stylized image was painted from a photo taken by Dr. Fawks who had family ties to Merriam for over 50 years. The mural was commissioned by the Merriam Community Center Foundation and funded by a grant from the Kansas City 150th Anniversary Legacy Fund. 


 

painting that shows a large crowd listening to a military band. An American flag hangs behind the band. a baby is facing the viewer.

Celebration 

2021
Artist: Michael Walsh    
Merriam Community Center, 6040 Slater St.

This piece was inspired by Flags 4 Freedom. It was commissioned by former Merriam City Councilmember Nancy Hupp in memory of her husband, Ron.

 


 

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Hmmm... 

2019
Artist: Joshua Weiner  
Waterfall Park, 5191 Merriam Drive        

This sculpture features a nine-foot tall caterpillar standing next to a 12-foot cairn (stack of river boulders) with a butterfly perched on top. This fun art piece was created to playfully explore placemaking and identity and is located at Merriam's beautiful Waterfall Park.


 

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Motherhood

2006
Artist: Kwan Wu
Merriam Historic Plaza, 6304 E. Frontage Road
  

This bronze sculpture and water fountain was dedicated in 2006 at the Merriam Historic Plaza & Visitors Bureau. The mother bear with her cubs celebrate one of the most popular features of historic Merriam Park, a 40-acre amusement park greeting thousands of visitors daily in the late 1800s.


 

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Planting the Seeds

2017
Artist: Christopher Weed
Merriam Marketplace, 5740 Merriam Drive

This stunning sculpture was inspired by nature. Each sphere's brilliant mirror finish with organic variations suggests a large, sprouting seed. The piece transforms the viewer to another realm – muting the outside distractions while providing an opportunity of reflection. 

 


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"Seasons of Historic Merriam" Mural 

1986
Artist: Charles Goslin    
Merriam City Hall, 9001 W. 62nd Street

This mural hangs in the Community Training Room at Merriam City Hall. It depicts people and events that shaped the early community of Campbelltown/Merriam. Native American tribes settled in the Turkey Creek basin when territories and reservations were established by the federal government. Covered wagons traveled the Santa Fe, California, and Oregon Trails through the area.

David Gee Campbell and former slave Cornelius Jackson are depicted with a bushel of apples. Campbell planted orchards through the area. On October 17, 1862, Quantrill sacked Shawnee Town in retaliation of atrocities by General Lane. Shortly after, Mr. Campbell constructed a home just west of Johnson Driec and Merriam Drive. It burned in 1881, one year after Campbell's untimely death in a railroad accident. It ws reconstructed on the same native stone foundation and still stands today. Merriam Park and the surrounding residential plats matured in the late 19th century. By 1907 the  new Rosedale-Hocker Trolley line advertised service "just 35 minutes from Union Station by electric railroad." Service lasted until 1934.


 

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Still Time

2016
Artist: Dan Maginn, DRAW Architecture + Urban Design
Northwest corner of Johnson & Merriam Drives

This sculpture features an 8x8 limestone and steel tower with a large wind chime inside. The wind chime sounds counterpoint the busy intersection with a sense of calm. The work celebrates the timeless presence of wind on the site, tying into the memory of the original settlers of the region, the Kanza Tribe, which were known as the “People of the South Wind.” The artist team worked closely with UMKC composer Paul Rudy on the sound component of the piece. Once the tower was in place, the team performed an analysis of the resonance of the chamber, which allowed Paul to suggest the five exact notes that would resonate the most, and provide the richest sound experience.