Previous Special Events

All Library locations will be closed on Monday, May 30, for Memorial Day.

Sunday, November 1, 2015
2:00pm @ Plaza Branch

Coterie Theatre artists read from comedian Michael Ian Black’s tongue-in-cheek book about a little girl who’s bored until meeting a talking potato that claims kids like her are, frankly, boring. She sets out to prove otherwise. Young audience members can “jump into the story,” adding their own improvisation. Appropriate for all ages.


Friday, October 30, 2015
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

Chopped off toes. Chopped off thumbs. Hands grabbing your ankle and pulling you underwater. Fairy tales can be scary, which also is part of what makes them fun.

Kansas City actor Robert Gibby Brand and wife Linda Ade Brand, the Lyric Opera’s director of education and community engagement, talk the night before Halloween about the original—and creepy—versions of the Frog Prince, Rumplestiltskin, Cinderella, and other favorite fairy tales. Kids and parents can meet the water sprite, Rusalka, who wants to become “Part of Your World” like the mermaid Ariel. (Spoiler: sad ending.)

Costumes are welcome. Treats are provided. Appropriate for ages 11 and up.


Thursday, October 29, 2015
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

Start with Abraham Lincoln’s stovepipe hat, which made the already-towering president a target on battlefields. It bore a black mourning band for his son Willie, who died at age 11, and was worn by Lincoln the night he was assassinated at Ford’s Theater in April 1865. When you hold the hat, Richard Kurin says, “you feel the man.”

It’s among the items in the vast collection of the Smithsonian Institution selected by Kurin and a team of top curators and scholars for inclusion in the book History of America in 101 Objects. Kurin, the Institution’s under secretary for art, history, and culture, discusses the treasures, their significance to our nation’s history, and how they made their way into the Smithsonian.


Wednesday, October 28, 2015
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

General admission seating for this performance of JazzAlice is at capacity. Due to continuing demand, we have added a second show on Monday, November 2, 2015, at the Plaza Branch.

A limited number of VIP tickets are still available for the Wednesday, October 28, performance. VIP tickets are $30 and include a reserved seat in the first six rows of the Truman Forum Auditorium and admission to a post-event reception.

Kansas City jazz legend Angela Hagenbach leads a diverse ensemble cast in an original and unique retelling of the Lewis Carroll classic. In this version, Alice explores Wonderland while accompanied by the music of John Coltrane (with original lyrics written by Hagenbach).

Hagenbach presents a perfect pairing, matching the unexpected wonders of Carroll's imagination with the improvisational magic of Coltrane's bebop sax for a performance that will delight and entertain audiences of all ages.

Known for interpretations of material by Duke Ellington and Henry Mancini, Hagenbach has performed at the Kennedy Center and toured 17 countries as a Cultural Jazz Ambassador for the U.S. State Department. Since her debut album Come Fly with Me, she has earned critical praise for her mainstream jazz sensibilities from JazzTimes, L.A. Jazz Scene, and National Public Radio.


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The same fictional twosome at the center of David O. Stewart’s The Lincoln Deception delves further into alternative history, sorting through the deviousness of the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, in Stewart’s latest book, The Wilson Deception.

The lawyer-turned-author discusses the history behind his novel, centered on the months-long negotiation of the end of World War I and its Big Four participants: U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, British Prime Minister David Lloyd George, French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau, and Italian Prime Minister Vittorio Emanuele Orlando.


Friday, October 23, 2015
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

It’s a fun-tastic, non-scary Halloween spooktacular. Pumpkin Man drops in on this cabaret show along with the invisible couple, spooky skeletons, Martians, ghosts, and trick marionettes. Appropriate for all ages.


Thursday, October 22, 2015

A century and a half ago, trains hauling cattle and cowboys brought the real west from Amarillo, Texas, to Kansas City. Return trips carried a trove of materials to Amarillo — canned and dry goods, chemicals, furniture, and fashionable clothing — and Kansas City’s influence there ultimately extended to banking, education, architecture, and art.

Amy Von Lintel and Michael R. Grauer, both native Kansas Citians who are now art historians in the Amarillo area, discuss KC’s role in reshaping Amarillo’s culture and the lasting connections between the two cities. Von Lintel is an assistant professor of art history at West Texas A&M University in Canyon. Grauer is associate director for curatorial affairs and curator of art and Western heritage at the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, also in Canyon.


Thursday, October 22, 2015

Winston Churchill discovered painting when he was in his 40s, and after that rarely traveled without his paint box. It was a source of tranquility — “a friend who makes no undue demands” — said the renowned British statesman, who produced more than 500 pieces now housed in museums and private collections around the world. They range from landscapes and seascapes to still-life subjects and portraits, most brushed in oil.

Timothy Riley, the curator of paintings at the National Churchill Museum in Fulton, Missouri, discusses the hobby that became Churchill’s passion. Co-presented by the British Consulate General, Chicago, the presentation underscores Churchill’s historic ties to Missouri — he gave his Iron Curtain speech at Fulton’s Westminster College in 1946 — and is part of a week of events and activities in Kansas City designed by the consulate to strengthen links between Britain and KC.


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Jesus was a perceptive teacher and skilled storyteller who taught in parables, short stories using everyday images to speak about the Kingdom of Heaven. But life in first-century Galilee and Judea was very different from our world today.

As renowned New Testament scholar Amy-Jill Levine notes in her book, Short Stories by Jesus: The Enigmatic Parables of a Controversial Rabbi, many traditional interpretations of his teachings not only ignore the disparity but also import anti-Jewish and sexist views.

Levine, the University Professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt University, shows how hearing the parables in their Jewish context allows us to recover their original provocation and thus recognize what they might say to 21st-century listeners.


Tuesday, October 20, 2015
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

Kansas native Antonya Nelson stands out on multiple literary fronts; she is the author of four novels and seven short story collections and has published her work in The New Yorker, Esquire, Harper’s, Redbook, and other magazines. She is the recipient of a USA Artists Award, a Rea Award for the Short Story, and National Endowment for the Arts and Guggenheim fellowships.

Nelson, who teaches at Warren Wilson College and the University of Houston, discusses her works with Angela Elam, the producer and host of KCUR-FM’s New Letters on the Air. The conversation will be taped for later broadcast on New Letters.


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