Joplin, Missouri is a Crossroads of Culture

Activities, Magazine Features

With a host of attractions and a picturesque location in the Ozarks, Joplin is the next place to be

Joplin, Missouri is more than a destination, it’s the place to be. Guests can visit Joplin’s many attractions and must-see experiences and enjoy more than 200-plus restaurants when they aren’t exploring. Located in the beautiful Ozarks of Southwest Missouri, Joplin is where Historic Route 66 unites with a pair of interstates (44 and 49) and is the hub where Kansas City, Wichita, Oklahoma City and Fayetteville join forces. With so much to see and do, it’s difficult to know where to start. These attractions are a good way to immerse yourself in Joplin’s culture.

George Washington Carver National Monument

George Washington Carver was an agronomist who invented more than 300 products made from peanuts as well as products from other crops like sweet potatoes. Although he was born into slavery, Carver went on to become an esteemed scientist, educator, and humanitarian. Carver was also known for his great faith and his artistic talents. Today, you can visit the 240-acre national park built in honor of this multi-talented personality: George Washington Carver National Monument. Located in Diamond, Missouri, about 15 miles southeast of Joplin, this is where Carver was raised, where he explored the surrounding woods and prairie, and where he envisioned his ideas. The park’s Visitor Center highlights Carver’s contributions to science, art, and black history and includes a museum, theater, discovery center, and The Park Store, a gift shop operated by the Carver Birthplace Association. Step outside and experience Carver’s outdoor “lab” by walking the nature trails (one is paved) and visiting the 1881 Moses Carver house and Carver cemetery.

The George Washington Carver National Monument highlights Carver’s contributions to science, art and black history.

Cornell Complex

Creativity flows in this modern arts and entertainment complex that Connect2Culture and Spiva Center for the Arts call home. The Complex features a 435-seat performance theater, reception areas, outdoor decks and patios, galleries, and classroom spaces. Serving as the heart of Joplin’s art community since 1947, Spiva invites visitors to discover, create, and collect art. Local, regional, national, and international talent is showcased here in rotating exhibits throughout the year. The center also hosts PhotoSpiva, the oldest continually running photography competition west of the Mississippi River, with entries from artists from all over the country. As Joplin’s community arts agency, Connect2Culture promotes and supports arts and cultural activity at the complex. Serving as a collective voice for 50-plus organizations, C2C builds audience and improves access to the offerings of the Joplin creative community. C2C’s annual seasons offers residents and visitors world-class entertainment at an affordable price.

Murals at City Hall and in Downtown Joplin

Joplin is home to a slew of public murals that not only mirror the character of the people and places where they are displayed, but they are also a physical part of them. In downtown Joplin alone, there are 10 locations where visitors can view public murals. Here are a few of them:

 Joplin at the Turn of the Century

Painted by world-renowned American Regionalist artist Thomas Hart Benton, this 1972 mural is his only autobiographical work and one of his finest creations. This mural was the final piece that Benton signed, and it was dedicated to the city in 1973, on Joplin’s 100th birthday.

Evolution of a Mural

Located on the mezzanine of City Hall, this exhibit traces the development of Benton’s thought process as he designed his final mural. The exhibit includes rough drawings of this monumental work in progress as well as one of Benton’s few remaining maquettes (3-D clay model) known to exist.

Route 66 – Joplin, Missouri

Proving that talent runs deep in the family, Benton’s grandson Anthony Benton Gude created a mural to reflect another booming era in Joplin’s history. Gude’s mural highlights the mid-20th-century popularity of Route 66 and its impact on the vitality of Joplin’s Main Street and was completed and dedicated in April 2010. The mural was funded by the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce Cultural Affairs committee.

Elsewhere in downtown Joplin, several different murals grace the walls and pay tribute to the performing arts, black history, Route 66, and the recovery from the Joplin 2011 tornado.

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Kerstin Landwer

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