The Arts & Recreation Foundation of Overland Park
About the Foundation
The Arts & Recreation Foundation of Overland Park was founded in 1995 and is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions as allowed by law. Its purposes include development and promotion of recreational, aesthetic, educational, scientific and cultural potential of the Parks and Recreation Department of the City of Overland Park, Kansas. Since its inception, the Foundation has produced signature community events and raised funds and accepted donations for capital improvements at the Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens, Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead, and the Public Art Master Plan.
With the help of the Foundation’s “Friends” membership groups and their Advisory Boards, the Foundation raises funds for capital projects, educational and cultural programs, exhibits and community events.
The foundation’s fundraising efforts combined with contributions from the community leave an impressive legacy of enhancements that impact the future of the Arboretum, the Farmstead, and public art spaces in Overland Park. See below for more information about our most important improvement projects:
At the Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical GardensByrd’s Grove offers a quiet place from which to view Margaret’s Pond and the Amphitheater from the west side. Large, lavishly filled planters will give you ideas for your own containers at home. Byrd's Grove was a gift from Wayne and Anne Byrd.
At the Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical GardensThe Cohen Iris Garden is a veritable showcase of many iris varieties and a colorful garden throughout the year. We are indebted to the Greater Kansas City Iris Society for their guidance in making the Iris Garden a wonderful place to enjoy the beauty of iris from early bloomers in April to late bloomers in June. The garden is the result of gifts from the Barton P. and Mary D. Cohen Charitable Trust and Friends of the Arboretum. We are also indebted to Mr. Cohen for including a generous endowment fund for annual maintenance of the garden in his estate. More information on planned giving.
At the Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical GardensThanks to a gift from the David W. Newcomer IV and Gene Ann Newcomer Family Foundation Fund, the Emily Dickinson Garden, located near the waterfall connecting Margaret's Pond and Medina Family Pond, will open in the Spring of 2024.
At the Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical GardensLocated just beyond the entrance to the Arboretum & Botanical Gardens, the Environmental Education Center is the hub of educational programming. Stop by to see exhibits, get a discovery back pack, or choose one of the many activity cards to guide you and your family through the Arboretum. The list of donors who contributed funds to build the center in 2000 is just inside the front door.
At the Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical GardensThe Erickson Water Garden was one of the first gardens established at the Arboretum in the 1990's. It is home to bird and butterfly plants (including a Buddleia collection), wildflowers and ornamental grasses. Color peaks here in mid-summer. Enjoy the sound of the falls and meandering brooks throughout the garden. Richard and Georgia Erickson are the benefactors.
At the Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical GardensFriends of the Arboretum have contributed funds for the two existing greenhouses. The organization will provide 100% of the funds to building a third greenhouse to be completed in time for the 2025 growing season.
At the Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical GardensKaren and Chuck Haake came to Friends of the Arboretum with the vision of a tranquil place where they could recognize supporters with inscriptions on patio pavers. Later, Karen and Chuck added funding for the pergola and benches. Covering the patio are beautiful messages of love and celebration. Stop by and take a look!
At the Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical GardensLocated just under the dam and across the streamway, this space was designed for an intimate setting, much like your living room. In 2014, the Jim and Carol Burrows family were looking for a peaceful, natural location to remember their grandson, Joshua Shane, a young man who was dedicated to environmentalism and sustainability and rooted in a desire to help others. Keeping to Joshua's passion, the area was carved out in such a way, as to minimize impact and promote the unruly ways of trees and vines in the woods. The "living room" furniture was honed from a large tree trunk and decorated with ipe wood recycled from other local projects. Weathering steel completes the north wall and provides the tops of 3 tables. Each table features quotes, dear to Joshua. The landscape for the area remains "natural" with a little help. Virginia Bluebells, native buckeye and spiderwort surprise visitors during the Spring and Summer. Visions of the cypress valley color Fall with rustic orange and the sycamore tree grace the Winter sky.
At the Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical GardensThe legacy garden showcases plants that may have been seen on Kansas homesteads. There are four time capsules in this garden that are opened every 25 years.
At the Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical GardensLongHouse is a dream come true for those who have worked for over 30 years for the Arboretum to become a world-class attraction in Overland Park. Private donations from over 200 donors totaling over $11 million helped the City of Overland Park complete the new front door to the Arboretum in 2024. LongHouse also serves as Overland Park's premier event center for meetings and celebrations. Visit the City of Overland Park website to learn more!
At the Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical GardensThe Legacy Garden showcases plants that may have been seen on Kansas homesteads. There are four time capsules in this garden that are opened every 25 years. It is also a tribute to the Overland Park Legacy of Greenery Committee whose members were and are committed to preserving green space in our community. In the late 1980's, they came to City leaders with their vision for an arboretum and botanical gardens and spearheaded efforts to acquire the property.
At the Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical GardensMargie's Serenity Point is a beautiful place to overlook the west side of the Arboretum property and woods - and in the future a rose garden. It is named in memory of Margie Engelkemier who was a dedicated and tireless volunteer for over a decade. Her family provided the funds for the overlook.
At the Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical GardensAs you enter the grounds of the Arboretum you pass through one of the premier garden experiences in the Kansas City area - The Monet Garden. It is unique among all of the gardens in the Arboretum because it is operated as a cooperative effort between the Arboretum and Johnson County Extension Master Gardeners (EMGs).
At the Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical GardensThe Overland Park Arboretum and the adjacent 320 acres known as Kemper Farm are the ideal location for a unique sculpture garden for the Midwest. The concept began in 2011 when The Arts & Recreation Foundation entered into a partnership with the International Sculpture Foundation and noted sculptor Kwan Wu and accepted gifts of 24 sculptures as part of a cultural exchange with China. These sculptures are currently on a 1/2 mile path that begins just outside the visitor center and east of the Monet Garden. Plans are for the sculptures to move to a permanent home and become the centerpiece of the Sculpture Garden envisioned for 250 acres of Kemper Farms. The sculpture garden master plan and concept emphasizes the relationship between art and nature. Read more about plans for this exciting development.
At the Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical GardensThis garden is a whimsical and educational experience for young visitors. Children can climb to the top of the Sky Watch, walk through the vine-covered Shrinking Tunnel, and check out the Frog Pond inhabitants. Initial funding came from Overland Park's Rotary Clubs.
At the Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical GardensThe Stous Promenade is home to an extensive collection of trees. All are labeled and provide an introduction to the trees of our area within a very short walk. Watch for announcement of "tree tours" led by knowledgeable staff and volunteers. You are sure to learn something and understand how fortunate that our facility is both a botanical garden and an arboretum. The Lakeside Amphitheater – in the Stous Promenade and overlooking Margaret's Pond – is a beautiful location for a wedding or celebration. It is available to reserve. The promenade honors Erma Stous whose gift was the first bequest received by the Foundation to support the Arboretum.
At the Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical GardensThis year-round Train Garden includes a life-size caboose and a full-size railroad crossing gate. G-Scale (1/22nd of the actual size) model trains wind through bluffs, over lake and streams, and through model villages. It is a favorite of visitors of all ages. The first railroad layout, The Leaky Roof Line, was completed in 2012. Soon the Leatherwood Depot – a sheltered area with picnic tables was constructed in 2013. The Arboretum's version of Old Downtown Overland Park and the Strang Line Trolley was opened in 2014. The final and largest layout depicting railroading as we know it today began operating in 2017. Plantings are native prairie types of improved varieties such as Little Bluestem and Big Bluestem, Black-eyed Susans and more. The trains are operated by volunteers and will run from 10 a.m. to close, except during wet, extreme cold, high heat and windy conditions. See the list of donors who made the Train Garden possible inside the Leatherwood Depot.
At the Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical GardensThis garden is at the entrance of the Arboretum on 179th Street. It beckons visitors with a colorful array of shrubs, ornamental grasses and flowers gracing our beautiful hackett and limestone walls. Numerous donors contributed to this project.
At Deanna Rose Children's FarmsteadDesigned to look like a typical Kansas farm house, the Ben Craig Administration Building was a joint project of the City of Overland Park and Friends of the Farmstead. It is named in honor of Overland Park city leader Ben Craig.
At Deanna Rose Children's FarmsteadLeave the farm animals behind and a short butterfly-friendly walk! Harvey Bodker donated funds to create the space and continued to provide for annual upkeep and enhancements.
At Deanna Rose Children's FarmsteadIn honor of Friends of the Farmstead's generous contribution toward construction of the adjacent Ben Craig Administration Building, the City named this seating area Friends Plaza.
At Deanna Rose Children's FarmsteadWith bleacher seating, Gayle’s exploration outpost is a great family gathering spot during the day. The Farmstead hosts a number of concerts, shows, camps, and events at the outpost. Friends of the Farmstead named this versatile pavilion in honor of Gayle Lindmark.
At Deanna Rose Children's FarmsteadAs many as 60 chickens call the Farmstead home. The chickens often greet visitors in the yard at Georgia’s Chicken Coop. Or, walk through and see the inside of the coop where the variety of breeds stay safe and lay their eggs. The Erickson family donated funds to build the chicken coop and named it in honor of Georgia Erickson, former Overland Park City Council member and long-time support of the Farmstead, Arboretum and public art.
At Deanna Rose Children's FarmsteadThe ever-popular mining attraction at the Farmstead received a complete makeover in 2023 thanks to the generosity of Larry and Sandy Engelkemier and Friends of the Farmstead.
At Deanna Rose Children's Farmstead
Vic’s General StoreThe Regnier Family Foundation named the General Store after their father, Vic Regnier. Modeled after the Conser General Store that originally operated in this area, the new general store features historically correct interior fixtures and finishes. These include shelves, display racks and sales counters that showcase merchandise as would be found in the early 1900s. In addition to being a replica of an actual early 1900s general store, this facility will also feature an area of nostalgic items for sale such as
- Deanna Rose Children's Farmstead merchandise
- old-fashioned wooden toys
- plush farm animals and John Deere apparel
- old-time candy and taffy
- and more
Alex & Emily's Ice Cream ParlorThe Hoffman Family Foundation named "Alex and Emily's Ice Cream Parlor" in honor of their grandchildren. Visitors will go back in time when experiencing the parlor's 1900s back bar which was originally located in Spring Hill, Kan., along with additional furnishings that include period artifacts.
Ray's BarbershopThe Hoffman family funded construction of the barbershop. Stop by to see artifacts from an early 20th Century barbershop featuring barber chairs and utensils. Knowledgeable guides will point out the interesting tools of the trade.
John's Blacksmith ShopJohn's Blacksmith Shop is named in honor of John Deere, founder of the company bearing his name, who began his career as a blacksmith. Deanna Rose Children's Farmstead is home to a demonstration blacksmith shop where a blacksmith is there to show all who stop to watch what it takes to turn metal into utensils or art. You're sure to learn something! The John Deere Company provided funding.
Pat's Photography ParlorStep back in time and see how photos were taken in the old days.
At Deanna Rose Children's FarmsteadThe prairie pavilion is the perfect space to host a large event at the Farmstead. Learn more about renting the pavilion for your next event. Naming rights for the Pavilion are available.
At Deanna Rose Children's FarmsteadWalk through a variety of gardens, featuring plants, trees, flowers and even vegetables made possible by a gift from the Overland Park Kiwanis Club.
At Deanna Rose Children's FarmsteadThis farm-themed playground - initially funded by a grant from the Overland Park Rotary Club - includes a fort, a fountain, a miniature log cabin, a sandbox with sand shovels, ride-on plastic animals, slides, a climbing tractor and a seating area with sun and shade shelters.
At the FarmsteadThis windmill was dedicated in loving memory of Megan Kersting, the daughter of Overland Park employee Bert Kersting.
by Mike ChristianerBuilt entirely with private donations, the 9/11 Memorial was built to remember and honor the victims and educate visitors about the tragic events and heroic efforts of Sept. 11, 2001, a day in the nation's history that will forever be remembered.
Various sculptures have been donated to display and enhance the beauty of the Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens, such as, the Chinese-US Sculpture Garden, Corazon II, Geometric Stratum, Monet, Pod Forms, and Red Tail Hawk. Pictured here is Monet by Gary Lee Price, donated by Clay Blair. Media: Bronze.PERMANENT COLLECTIONS
by Gary KahleThis sculpture of stylized birds in flight marks the entrance to downtown and the site of a historic airfield. Media: Stainless Steel. Donated in part by Friends of Overland Park Arts.
by Larry YoungBlackbird landed at City Hall in 2011, created by Larry Young of Columbia, Missouri, a former Olympic medalist and preeminent sculptor. Donated in part by Friends of Overland Park Arts.
by Steven RichardsonMeant to celebrate the purpose of the Convention Center where people come together, this piece by Steven Richardson is mounted in the central circle drive. Media: Stainless Steel and Cor-ten Steel. Donated in part by Friends of Overland Park Arts.
by Matt KirbyLocated at the southwest corner of 103rd Street and Metcalf Avenue, Pierced Sky was a gift to the City from Mary Davidson Cohen.
by Charles Goslin
Located at the Korean War Memorial at Tomahawk Ridge Community Center. Korean War veterans, their families and friends provided funding for the sculpture and the memorial plaza. Donations are accepted for upkeep of the memorial and an annual commemoration ceremony on Veterans Day and can be recognized with inscriptions on bricks and benches.
By Kwan WuMr. Strang watches the sun rise over the city he founded. A small fob of his first streetcar, the Ogerita, dangles from his pocket watch chain. Media: Bronze
Overland Park, KS 66225