Juneteenth Celebration 
Thursday, June 20, 2024 | 10 a.m.-9 p.m. 

As part of city-wide observances and in partnership with JuneteenthKC, the free Juneteenth Celebration honors the enduring contributions of African Americans with a full day of festivities, including live music and dancing, storytelling performances, film screenings, and educational experiences in the museum’s galleries.  

About Juneteenth
Also known as Freedom Day, Juneteenth is an abbreviation of “June nineteenth” and honors the emancipation of people who were enslaved, which was announced by executive order in Texas on June 19, 1865. The history of freedom and equal rights after emancipation is long and complex — and still being written today.  

Although the festival is free, registration is required for guests who are not members. You may choose to register in person when you arrive, but we strongly encourage you to save time by registering in advance. 

If you’re a Nelson-Atkins member, you do not need to register in advance — just present your card when you arrive at the festival. 



Storytelling by Community Leaders | 10:30–11:15 a.m.
Atkins Auditorium, Nelson-Atkins Building
Hear inspirational stories from community leaders Ajia Morris, founder of the Greenline Initiative and LocalCode Kansas City, and Quincy Bennett Johnson, mother of Mayor Quinton Lucas and a life-long Kansas City resident. Performance will feature real-time captioning. 

Storytelling by the Buffalo Soldiers │ 1–1:40 p.m.
Atkins Auditorium, Nelson-Atkins Building 
Buffalo Soldiers tell stories of triumph and glory beginning with the American Revolutionary War. Performance will feature real-time captioning. 

Ailey! Documentary | 4–5:40 (Atkins Auditorium, Nelson-Atkins Building) | 7-8:40 p.m. (Lens 2, Bloch Building)
Discover the legendary choreographer Alvin Ailey, whose dances centered on the Black American experience with grace, strength, and beauty. Screening in commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey and introduced by Tyrone Aiken, the organization’s Chief Artistic Officer, this documentary features previously unheard audio interviews with Ailey, interviews with those close to him, and an intimate glimpse into the Ailey studios today. (Rated TV-14) 

Harmony of Cultures | 6–6:30 p.m.
Atkins Auditorium, Nelson-Atkins Building
The Kansas City Greek Picnic, in collaboration with the National Pan-Hellenic Council and talented members of the Divine Nine fraternities and sororities, celebrates Black Greek culture with a mesmerizing and vibrant fusion of traditional step dancing and modern choreography.  

The Kansas City Boys & The Kansas City Girls Choirs │6:30–6:55 p.m.
Bloch Lobby, Bloch Building
Enjoy musical selections performed by talented young Kansas Citians.

Closing remarks and live performances | 7-7:40 p.m.
Atkins Auditorium, Nelson-Atkins Building
JuneteenthKC program director Makeda Peterson recognizes key Juneteenth participants and honors the legacy of her father, community leader Horace M. Peterson III. Vocalist Misha Alford sings the powerful anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” followed by a jazz performance by award-winning author, speaker, and musician John H. Hudson.  

Kansas City 2Step Showcase and free dancing | 7-7:30 p.m. | 7:45-8:45 p.m.
Bloch Lobby, Bloch Building
Experience the award-winning dancing of De Barker and steppers from the Kansas City 2Steppin’ community. The performance will start with free dancing, followed by a 2Step showcase at beginning at 7:45 p.m. 


Art Activity | 10 a.m.–8 p.m.
Classrooms 2–5, Nelson-Atkins Building
Express your creativity with an art activity celebrating the Juneteenth holiday.  

Juneteenth Quilt Display & Photo station | 10 a.m.–8:30 p.m.
Bloch Lobby, Lobby Level  

Learning and exploration

Docent Spotlight Stations | 10 a.m.–3 p.m. | 5–7 p.m.
Nelson-Atkins docents will be stationed at various works of African American artists in the museum’s collection, offering insights and historical information about each piece. A different work of art will be featured each hour: 

  • 10–11 a.m. | The Young Sabot Maker, Henry Ossawa Tanner (Gallery 215, Nelson-Atkins Building) 
  • 11 a.m.–noon | Marian Anderson, Beauford Delaney (Gallery 219, Nelson-Atkins Building) 
  • Noon–1 p.m. | Subway Preacher, Alison Saar (Gallery L5, Bloch Building)
  • 1–2 p.m. | Figure with Skirt, Simone Leigh (Gallery L2, Bloch Building) 
  • 2–3 p.m. | Glory, Vanessa German (Gallery L2, Bloch Building) 
  • 5–6 p.m. | Figure with Skirt, Simone Leigh (Gallery L2, Bloch Building) 
  • 6–7 p.m. | Subway Preacher, Alison Saar (Gallery L5, Bloch Building) 

Interactive book displays | 10 a.m.–5 p.m. 
Educator Resource Center, Nelson-Atkins Building   

Gallery Activity | 10 a.m.–7 p.m.
Gallery L5, Bloch Building 
With the help of a Museum Guide, learn about the civil rights leaders depicted in Kerry James Marshall’s painting Memento #5 

Explore more of the Nelson-Atkins with our Digital Family Gallery Guide, which features activities and information about the museum’s art and galleries.  

Learning Station | 11 a.m.–3 p.m.
The Spencer Art Reference Library, Bloch Building
Stop by the library and browse books from its collection.   

Race Project KC | 1–7 p.m.
Gallery L5, Bloch Building
Local high school students discuss the Race Project KC initiative and share their perspectives on Mound Magician by Radcliffe Bailey. 


Lunch | 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
Coffee and dessert | 2-4 p.m.
Rozzelle Court Restaurant, Nelson-Atkins Building
Enjoy entrees and small plates in the elegant Rozzelle Court. Gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegetarian options are available. 

Sips & Snacks | 5–8 p.m.
Bloch Lobby
Choose from assorted small plates, beer, wine, and mixed drinks. 


Free festival pin for Nelson-Atkins members | 10 a.m.–8:30 p.m. 
If you’re a member, stop by the info desk in Bloch Lobby to claim your free Juneteenth enamel pin! To collect your pin, present your member ID card or digital membership receipt. If you’re not a member, join online or visit the table to learn more about membership opportunities. 

Know our three rules
To ensure the safety and preservation of the art, we ask all Nelson-Atkins visitors to follow three primary rules when they come to the museum:  

  • Stay at least two feet from the art. Please do not touch, lean on, or sit on the art, including outdoor sculptures and the reflecting pool.   
  • No backpacks in the galleries. We offer free coat and bag check in the Bloch Building lobby. Alternatively, carry your bag or wear it on one shoulder or the front of your body. 
  • No food or drink in the galleries. Guests are permitted to eat outdoors and in designated indoor dining areas. 

Community partners who help make our Juneteenth Celebration a success.    

Members—the art and soul of the museum—and volunteers, whose support makes festivals like this possible. To learn more, visit the Info Desk in Bloch Lobby or ArtAndSoulKC.org.