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What’s new in the Midwest

Courtesy Fort Wayne Museum of Art

New things are afoot in the Midwest.

From Kansas City to Cleveland, developments in the tourism world have created new reasons to bring groups to the region. In some cases, attractions and companies have added new components to bolster their already-popular experiences. In other places, brand new attractions are set to opening, giving visitors more to see and do.

In Kansas City, the brand new Kauffman Center for the arts is set to open this fall, capping off years of investment into the downtown area. Cleveland recently welcomed the NASA Glenn Visitors Center as a new component to its Great Lakes Science Center, and the Fort Wayne Museum of Art has reopened after an extensive expansion project.

In the Windy City, Chicago, a local tour company has added seven new tours to its roster, giving visitors a look inside some off-the-beaten-track neighborhoods. And residents of Wisconsin Dells are excited about the launch of the Lost Voyage, a thrilling new interactive experience.

Fort Wayne Museum of Art
In 2010, the Fort Wayne Museum of Art reopened after a nine-month expansion and renovation project that added some 10,000 square feet of exhibit space.

“We’ve been open now for a little over a year with our expansion and renovation,” said Linda Dykhuizen, the museum’s director of marketing. “We added three permanent-collection galleries and a new auditorium. There’s also a new exhibition space dedicated to contemporary regional artists.”

The new galleries showcase the museum’s collections of American art. Many of the pieces on display in the new wing have long been a part of the permanent collections, kept in storage due to a lack of display space. The regional gallery features work by living artists from Indiana, Ohio, Michigan and Illinois.

Besides adding new gallery space, the renovation involved moving existing galleries and reconfiguring others, and the museum store was moved to a location that faces Fort Wayne’s Main Street. A cafe and a hands-on learning center for young visitors were also added.

In conjunction with the expansion, the museum has undertaken an initiative to expand its holdings by purchasing new American artwork. The capital campaign that funded the project also helped create a new outdoor sculpture garden.

Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts
Kansas City
Kansas City developers have spent billions of dollars in recent years building downtown into a vibrant entertainment destination. The crowning jewel of the effort will be the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, which is set to open in September.

“The Kauffman Center will present a wide range of entertainers and performances from around the world, including classical, pop, and jazz music; ballet and contemporary dance; Broadway productions; comedy shows; and more,” said special projects coordinator Kristin Smithson. “In addition, the Kauffman Center will serve as the performance home of three of the region’s leading performing arts organizations: the Kansas City Ballet, Kansas City Symphony and Lyric Opera of Kansas City.”

The 285,000-square-foot building includes two stand-alone performance halls. Both halls will feature beautiful contemporary architecture with a glass roof and glass walls that give guests a view of Kansas City, as well as state-of-the-art technical equipment.

Brian Jewell

Brian Jewell is the executive editor of The Group Travel Leader. In more than a decade of travel journalism he has visited 48 states and 25 foreign countries.