Warhol rides into town for Union Station's first major art exhibit

Monday, October 5, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT

KANSAS CITY — The psychedelic image of Marilyn Monroe's face dominating the front of Union Station is a bold announcement that something different is afoot.

Workers have installed the station's first out-and-out art exhibit with a major collection of 84 pieces by Andy Warhol.


Admission: For those 13 and older, admission is $12. For children 3-12 and for Union Station members, it is $8. Group rates also are available.

Hours: The exhibit will remain open until 9 p.m. on Fridays. A complimentary drink will be included with a ticket after 5 p.m.

For more information: Call 816-460-2020.

It's not profound as in the "Dead Sea Scrolls." It's not unnerving as in "Bodies Revealed." It's not candy as in "The Chronicles of Narnia." But the new exhibit runs through Jan. 10 has a bit of all that.

Station officials hope "Andy Warhol Portfolios: Life & Legends" will appeal to a broad audience.

"I encounter in people all the time an expectation that Union Station should be doing new and different things and testing boundaries," said Christopher Leitch, director of the Kansas City Museum and the station's project manager for the exhibit.

Warhol once said that everyone will be famous for 15 minutes. He died in 1987, but his art and reputation have endured. Warhol worked at the intersection of art and popular culture, and his name became synonymous with Pop Art. He worked in many media, but Union Station's exhibit is composed exclusively of silkscreen prints on loan from Bank of America.

The exhibit features Warhol's "unique interpretations of American consumerism, pop culture and an obsession with visual identity," according to Lillian Lambrechts, senior curator for Bank of America.

The works span Warhol's career. There's the familiar, such as the Marilyn portrait and 10 Campbell's soup cans. But the subjects also encompass a Birmingham, Ala., race riot, endangered species and portraits of Jews of the 20th century. There is a set of wildflower prints. Portraits range from Howdy Doody to Uncle Sam to Muhammad Ali to Robert Mapplethorpe.

"These prints are exquisitely made and beautifully framed," Leitch said. "This is an excellent presentation."

The exhibit is self-guided with printed programs and a recorded guide that can be downloaded. There is an opportunity at the end for a hands-on exercise in color.

Other Warhol exhibits currently at the Spencer Museum of Art in Lawrence and at the Ulrich Museum of Art in Wichita are composed of photographic works and are complementary to the Union Station exhibit.

Bank of America has long been a patron of Union Station, contributing to the annual Memorial Day concert as well as to the creation of the lower-level exhibit space where the Warhol show will be presented.

The exhibit will coincide with the 10th anniversary, on Nov. 10, of Union Station's reopening. President and chief executive officer George Guastello said he was excited to be offering Warhol's works.

"One good icon deserves another," he said in a promotional statement.

But officials have no illusion that the Warhol exhibit will solve the station's financial difficulties. Union Station's operating costs far exceed the revenue it brings in, and the board of directors has told the Kansas City Council that the station will need public support to stay open.

They conservatively project attendance at about 16,000. Tickets, on sale now, are priced lower than those of the blockbuster shows of recent years.

Like what you see here? Become a member.

Show Me the Errors (What's this?)

Report corrections or additions here. Leave comments below here.

You must be logged in to participate in the Show Me the Errors contest.


W. Arthur Mehrhoff October 5, 2009 | 9:26 a.m.

Great story about an exciting exhibition, but Missourian readers might also want to view "The Faces of Warhol" ( at the Museum of Art & Archaeology right here (did I mention it's free?) on the Columbia campus in order to get the 'back story' behind those famous Warhol images. Those fifteen minutes of fame actually were years in the making...

(Report Comment)
Rob Weir October 5, 2009 | 10:56 a.m.

Excellent point. Vox magazine, which is published by the Missourian, wrote about the "Faces of Warhol" exhibit earlier this year:

(Report Comment)
W. Arthur Mehrhoff October 6, 2009 | 10:36 a.m.

Thank you for the relevant and useful hyperlink, Rob. That was an excellent article about the Museum’s Warhol exhibition (the second installation on “Constructing Gender” just went up yesterday), so I’m basically just trying to connect the dots here. Along those lines I’ll see your hyperlink and raise you one. The blog entitled Do University Museums Matter? [] considers the role and importance of university museums like the Museum of Art & Archaeology and smaller exhibitions like Faces of Warhol. If anyone out there has read thus far, I would be very interested in your thoughts on the subject.

(Report Comment)

Leave a comment

Speak up and join the conversation! Make sure to follow the guidelines outlined below and register with our site. You must be logged in to comment. (Our full comment policy is here.)

  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Don't use language that makes personal attacks on fellow commenters or discriminates based on race, religion, gender or ethnicity.
  • Use your real first and last name when registering on the website. It will be published with every comment. (Read why we ask for that here.)
  • Don’t solicit or promote businesses.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report comment" link.

You must be logged in to comment.

Forget your password?

Don't have an account? Register here.