When Kansas City’s Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art opened to the public in 1933, it was viewed as a miracle, an oasis of culture in a Midwestern town whose image was still largely one of cowboys and steaks. In an engaging style, Kristie Wolferman tells the history of the Nelson-Atkins from its founding to the present day, a fascinating combination of people, events, and circumstances that culminated in an art museum that now holds its own among the finest in the world.
Wolferman begins by relaying how the trustees of the estates of the reclusive widow Mary Atkins and the family of Kansas City Star newspaper editor William Rockhill Nelson joined forces to establish a museum from scratch, then goes on to consider all of the highly talented people who directed and staffed the Nelson-Atkins along the way, their efforts resulting in many bold innovations, among them new collections, grounds, and educational programs and offerings.
With 100 color and black and white photographs, this book will be treasured by all who love and admire this remarkable institution, one that attracts half a million visitors—from across the city, state, nation, and world—each year.
This is a co-publication of the University of Missouri Press and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.
About the Author
Kristie C. Wolferman taught middle school History and English for twenty years at Pembroke Hill School in Kansas City. The author of The Osage in Missouri and The Indomitable Mary Easton Sibley: Pioneer of Women’s Education in Missouri (both published by the University of Missouri Press), she lives in Kansas City, Missouri, with her husband and their dog, Nelson.
“Lavishly illustrated.”—Kansas City Star
“This fascinating story is a must-read for anyone interested in Midwestern cities and how art can transform them. Kristie Wolferman has created a page-turner about art and international culture orchestrated by numerous Kansas City personalities that will surprise and excite you at every turn. Lively and well-researched, this book will not only inspire you to visit the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art but will also urge you to learn its amazing social history, with art front and center.”
— Susan Earle, PhD, curator of European & American Art, Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas