The Nelson-Atkins Museum Is Still Closed for Humans, But Three Sophisticated Penguins Just Got a Private Tour (and the Photos Are Adorable)

The animals apparently found Monet passé, but were curious about Caravaggio.

Courtesy of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri. Photo: Gabe Hopkins.
Courtesy of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri. Photo: Gabe Hopkins.

As museums started to shutter across the world, many were forced to cancel or postpone their black-tie galas. But one midwestern museum still managed to attract a few tuxedoed visitors this week. 

A trio of penguins—Bubbles (age five), Maggie (seven), and Berkley (eight)—from the Kansas City Zoo took a field trip across town to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art this week to take in a little culture sans humans.

The penguins, it turns out, had some hot takes. “They seemed to react much better to Caravaggio than Monet,” noted Julián Zugazagoitia, executive director and CEO of the museum, in a video of the tour posted online yesterday.

The three Humboldt penguins are native to the coastal areas of Peru and Chile and can live well into their 30s, according to the zoo. Zugazagoitia says he and other hosts at the museum spoke some Spanish to make them feel at home. 

“Unfortunately, our penguins can’t speak for themselves,” a representative from the zoo told Artnet News when asked if the animals would like to comment, “but we think they found the experience at the museum very enriching!” 

“The penguins absolutely loved it,” added Randy Wisthoff, executive director of the zoo, in the video, noting that the animals “miss having visitors come out and see them.”

So far, the internet is going wild for the penguins. The video already has nearly 723,000 views on the museum’s Facebook page, and nearly 100,000 more across Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube.

And the museum also brought its staff photographer along for the trip—see some more penguin pics below.

Courtesy of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri. Photo: Gabe Hopkins.

Courtesy of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri. Photo: Gabe Hopkins.

Courtesy of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri. Photo: Gabe Hopkins.

Courtesy of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri. Photo: Gabe Hopkins.

Courtesy of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri. Photo: Gabe Hopkins.

Courtesy of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri. Photo: Gabe Hopkins.

Courtesy of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri. Photo: Gabe Hopkins.

Courtesy of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri. Photo: Gabe Hopkins.

Courtesy of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri. Photo: Gabe Hopkins.

Courtesy of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri. Photo: Gabe Hopkins.


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