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Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri, is home to more than 42,000 works of art with a campus that includes the original Nelson-Atkins Building (Wight and Wight, 1933), the Bloch Building expansion (Steven Holl Architects, 2007), and the 22-acre Donald J. Hall Sculpture Park (Dan Kiley). It welcomes all people, or in the words spoken on its opening day in 1933, “all groups, all races, all creeds.” Toward further inclusivity, the Nelson-Atkins has offered free admission to all for nearly 25 years.

The museum was created with funds for art from the estate of Kansas City Star publisher William Rockhill Nelson, and money for land from a bequest by Mary McAfee Atkins, a retired school teacher and real estate investor. Originally two separate museums were envisioned, but trustees of the estates decided to combine all assets and add donations from others to create the museum. Since no art was originally given, the curators were free to build the collection from the ground up. Major works from Asia, especially from Imperial China, were some of the earliest purchases. The collection now includes European art, Native American art, contemporary art, and a major collection from Hallmark Cards of work that spans the entire history of photography. The museum also has a large collection of American Art, particularly of Thomas Hart Benton, a Missouri native who taught next door at the Kansas City Art Institute for several years.

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4525 Oak Street
Kansas City, Missouri
United States

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