Nelson-Atkins African Art Collection
Nelson-Atkins Museum of
Art, Scott Stuart sstuart @nelson-atkins.org Telephone : 816.561.4000
Address : 4525 Oak St. Kansas City. MO 64111-1873 USA
Nelson-Atkins Announces Bloch Building Opening
Impressionism and photography exhibitions will be first in new space
The African collection comprises approximately 300 objects that are diverse
in form and in media. Masks, sculptures, hair combs, headrests, textiles and
vessels are among the many types of works represented; media include fiber,
metal, wood, beads and clay.
While the African collection exemplifies formal beauty, it also represents
the historical range of objects created by cultures south of the Sahara
Desert. Most of the artworks were created by artists living in West and
Central Africa, primarily the countries of Mali, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana,
Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Read more about the African Collection
The Nelson-Atkins’ collection of African art began in earnest in 1958
with the purchase of two 17th-century cast brass artworks from the Benin
kingdom in Nigeria; a representation of a ruler’s head made to be placed on
a shrine and a figurative plaque that originally adorned palace walls.
About 50 works in the collection are among the best examples of African art
in the world. These include a royal Stool
with embossed silver decorations from the Asante kingdom of Ghana; a superb Standing
Male Figure calm in stature and arresting in presence made by a Hemba
artist from the Democratic Republic of the Congo; an impressive Royal
Beaded Throne created by a Bansoa artist in the Bamileke kingdom of
Cameroon; a Female
Mask (Kifwebe), rare for its attached fiber costume made by Songye
artists in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; a stunning shrine figure
carved by a Baga artist in Guinea; and a reliquary figure exceptional for its
double face, relatively large size and three types of metal made by a Kota
artist in Gabon.
The oldest work in the collection is a rare and stunning terra-cotta Horse
and Rider made by an artist of the Djenne culture in Mali that dates
from the 16th century. Conversely, the most recent work is a beautiful vessel
with smooth contours and elegant lines created by the renowned Kenyan-born
ceramicist Magdalene Odundo that dates from 1994.
The Museum boasts a small collection of art from East and South Africa,
including an exquisite, life-like mask carved by a Yao artist from Tanzania
and two sumptuously beaded capes created by Zulu artists in the country of
The collection also includes a fine, diverse group of Kuba
produced by men and women in the Democratic Republic of the
related book at Amazon: Nelson-Atkins
Museum of Art
Author: Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art;
Nelson-Atkins Announces Bloch Building Opening Date
Posted Thursday, June 29, 2006 :found at infoZine
Impressionism and photography exhibitions will be first in new space
Kansas City, Mo. - infoZine - The Nelson-Atkins Museum
of Art today announced Saturday, June 16, 2007 will be the opening date of the
highly anticipated Bloch Building. Designed by architect Steven Holl, the
public's first glimpse of the 165,000-square-foot expansion now is less than a
Two landmark Kansas City collections will serve as the inaugural special
exhibitions, including the personal impressionist collection of Marion and Henry
Bloch, and early American photography from the Hallmark Photographic Collection,
recently given to the Museum by Hallmark Cards Inc.
The expansion increases Museum space by 70 percent and houses new galleries for
the Nelson-Atkins' renowned collections of contemporary art, African art and
photography, plus a serene space devoted to the sculpture of Isamu Noguchi. Area
devoted to special exhibitions in the Bloch Building will swell to 11,648 square
feet; a 60-percent increase from the 7,290 formerly in the Nelson-Atkins. Bloch
Building amenities include a stunning entry lobby, the Spencer Art Reference
Library, a casual café and an enlarged Museum Store.
"We sought out the best in designing this building, from the concept as
conceived by Steven Holl to the superior craftsmanship provided by companies
from around the world," said Donald J. Hall, Chair of the Nelson-Atkins
Architect Selection Committee. "The opening of the Bloch Building will mark
the culmination of a journey that never wavered from bringing the best to Kansas
The Museum broke ground on April 2, 2001 for the multiphase expansion and
renovation. Many elements of the project are open already and available to the
public, including a new parking garage, renovated Kirkwood Hall, reinstalled
European collection and the new Ford Learning Center.
This fall, the Nelson-Atkins will celebrate the completion of work in the Kansas
City Sculpture Park and the end of Bloch Building construction with a four-day
public and member celebration Sept. 28 through Oct. 1.
Built in response to an ambitious study to gauge the hopes and dreams of the
community for the Nelson-Atkins, the Bloch Building opening will be the
culmination of a process begun with an international juried competition in 1999.
The six-year-long construction process was complex, and presented formidable
engineering challenges to realize architect Holl's novel vision. Running the
length of a 67-story skyscraper laid on its side along the sloping eastern edge
of the Museum's lush lawn, the airy Bloch Building presents a contemporary
contrast to the neoclassical beauty of the Nelson-Atkins.
The two inaugural special exhibitions in the new Bloch Building will be:
Manet to Matisse: Impressionist Masters from the Marion and Henry Bloch
This exhibition of 30 masterpieces of the highest quality celebrates the Marion
and Henry Bloch Collection of impressionist paintings, assembled over a period
of more than 20 years as the result of careful research and consultation with
curators and conservators. Among the famed works are Manet's The Croquet Party,
van Gogh's Restaurant Rispal at Asnières, Gauguin's The Willow and Cézanne's
Man with a Pipe, as well as major works by Monet, Renoir, Degas, Pissarro,
Morisot and Sisley. The collection also contains important modern paintings by
Bonnard and Matisse. This exhibition is sponsored by the H&R Block
Developing Greatness: The Origins of American Photography, 1839-1885
This large exhibition surveys the remarkable achievements from the birth of
photography in 1839 to the rise of the amateur in the mid-1880s. From
daguerreotypes to dry-plates, key artists, themes and works of early American
photography illuminate the many facets of 19th-century American thought and
culture. Many rare and previously unpublished and unseen works will be presented
to the public for the first time. This exhibition is supported by the Hall
Developing Greatness presents the definitive view of one of the nation's
greatest holdings of early American photography. The show surveys a spectrum of
American history, covering major themes such as the Civil War and the great
Western landscape in particular depth. All major photographers of the period are
represented, from Southworth & Hawes and Mathew Brady to Carleton Watkins
and Timothy O'Sullivan, while notable personalities of the era also will be on
view, with portraits of Harriet Beecher Stowe, Jenny Lind, Frederick Douglass
and Tom Thumb.
In addition to these two marquee attractions organized by the Nelson-Atkins, a
smaller installation of works by three leading Japanese contemporary artists
will round out the schedule of opening special exhibitions. Trouble in Paradise:
Japanese Contemporary Art will be on view in the Project Space, a flexible
gallery in the new Contemporary Department of the Bloch Building.
Visitors from around the world are expected to come see the new Bloch Building ,
a landmark of contemporary architecture that designer Steven Holl considers his
most important work to date. From the outside, the innovative building features
five sculptural glass pavilions, or "lenses," that weave harmoniously
into the surrounding landscape.
The glacier-white lenses admit natural light into the gallery space by day and
glow enchantingly by night.
"The Nelson-Atkins is committed through its collections and programs to
being a vital partner in the educational and cultural life of the
community," said Marc F. Wilson, the Menefee D. and Louise Blackwell
Director/CEO of the Museum. "Not only will the opening of the Bloch
Building reinforce its stature as a pre-eminent institution, nationally and
internationally; its arrival will enliven visitors and enable them to connect
with art and view the Nelson-Atkins as a relevant resource in their lives."
The Generations capital campaign was launched in 1997 to support the goals of
the Museum's strategic plan for the future and to ensure that the institution,
so tied to the civic pride and historical generosity of the community, would
continue to attract and engage the next generation of audiences. The combined
expansion-and-renovation project capped at $200 million is the most visible
public component. However, more than 900 donors pledged a total of $225.3
million to finance the campus transformation project and grow the permanent
operating endowment, supporting enhanced exhibition, education and outreach
offerings. Board leadership has been significant, with current and past trustees
of the Museum contributing more than $192 million, accounting for 53 percent of
money raised to date.
The Museum's Board of Trustees distinguished itself by offering leadership
through generous personal giving, collections commitments and creation of
initiatives that leveraged further support from other sources. Lead gifts for
the project have come from Board Chairman Henry W. Bloch, Founder of H&R
Block, and Board Trustee Donald J. Hall, Hallmark Cards Inc. Chairman. Together
with Board Trustee Estelle Sosland, they spearheaded a $50 million Trustee
Matching Grant initiative, in which the three pledged up to $50 million in
combined matching funds to the institution's endowment. To date, they have
matched more than $38 million in new gifts, securing a total of $78 million for
the operating endowment, supporting the financial stability and continued growth
of the institution.
The June 16, 2007 opening of the new Nelson-Atkins will begin at 10 a.m. with a
ceremonial opening presided over by Chairman of the Museum Trustees Henry W.
Bloch and his wife Marion, who lent their name to the new building. Member
preview days will be June 14 and 15, 2007. Admission to view the Museum's art
collections will remain free to all, in keeping with the Nelson-Atkins'
commitment to public service and accessibility.