Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

In Ancient Rome, members of the privileged elite communicated their wealth and status by adorning themselves and their homes with a variety of luxury goods. A new exhibit at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art showcases some of the most extraordinary pieces of the Empire. 

Guest:

Danny Lyon / courtesy of Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

The violence and horror of cell phone videos of the recent police shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile have galvanized many Americans to question race relations and justice.

We take a look back at iconic civil rights era photos, and then invite a psychologist and criminologist to explore the effect of images of violence, past and present, on our minds and our culture.

Guests:

Dumpster-diving for materials was done out of necessity when sculptor Tom Sachs first started, but now he does it by choice. It's just one way the bricolage specialist turns almost anything into art, avoiding perfection in the process. After all, "the only advantage an artist has over industry is her fingerprints," he says.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

For thousands of years, artisans have been making musical instruments out of clay — from whistles and rattles to ocarinas and horns. That tradition continues with two Kansas City artists who've turned ceramic vessels into a sonic experience. 

Chiluba Musonda

Every year, thousands of young people leave their home countries to study in the United States. 

Some come here because they want to pursue opportunities they wouldn’t have at home, some are simply looking for adventure. And some wind up in Kansas City without even knowing where it is on a map.

Chiluba Musonda can thank the Yahoo search engine for his home in Kansas City.

When he was researching colleges from his home country of Zambia, he typed the following words into the search queue: mid-size colleges, affordable, in the U.S.

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri.

Updated at 1:43 p.m.  

A 16th-century oil-on-wood panel, in the collection of The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art for decades, is now considered to be the work of Dutch master Hieronymus Bosch. 

The Temptation of St. Anthony is one of only 25 paintings attributed to Bosch in the world — and only one of five in the United States. 

"You see the figure of St. Anthony resting on one hand on his staff, that is one of his significant attributes. And with his other hand, he is dipping a big, bulbous jug into the water," described Rima Girnius, associate curator of European painting, on Up to Date

"He's surrounded by a host of various, hybrid creatures, little monsters, that really personify different temptations that he is trying to resist."

Courtesy Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City has received a $1 million grant to expand and "deepen" its educational programs, says Julián Zugazagoitia, the museum's CEO and director.

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

A white police officer with his arm around the neck of a black man. Officers standing in a line, wearing helmets and carrying rifles. These images are not from photographs taken this year or last year – as you might guess – but during the Civil Rights movement many decades ago. 

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, like many museums, maps out exhibitions in advance – often years ahead.

Copyright Talladega College. Photo by Peter Harholdt. / Collection of Talladega College, Talladega, Alabama

At the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Shawn Hughes is surrounded by American history depicted over the course of six murals painted in vivid colors with nearly life-sized figures.

There's a deck full of slaves about to mutiny on the Amistad, the mutinous captives on trial, an urgent scene in the woods as slaves are about to cross the Ohio River to freedom. There are students enrolling at the historically black Talladega College, bringing pigs and chickens to pay their tuition. And there are industrious workers building the university library.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

This story was rebroadcast as part of our best-of 2015 series. It was originally reported in July 2015. 

For two decades, Henry W. Bloch, co-founder of H&R Block, and his wife Marion, collected what they described as "pretty pictures" — mostly French Impressionist works by the likes of Degas, Matisse, and Monet. Nearly 30 of these paintings filled the walls of their Mission Hills, Kansas home.

Although these masterworks are not there now — you wouldn't know it by looking. 

Laura Spencer / KCUR

Several dozen people representing neighborhoods, arts groups and the city of Kansas City, Missouri, assembled Tuesday night at the Kauffman Foundation to continue discussions about a proposed cultural district around the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

They broke into smaller work groups, then discussed and voted on three design concepts: 

Julie Denesha / KCUR

Excitement enveloped a small band of foodies on Sunday as they feasted their way through a tour of Kansas City’s unique food offerings. 

Julián Zugazagoitia, director of The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, helped organize the private tour for Spanish master chef Ferran Adrià, whose notes and sketches are on display at the museum in an exhibition called Ferran Adrià: Notes on Creativity. The tour started at the J. Rieger & Co. distillery.

Laura Spencer / KCUR

On this edition of Up To Date, we learn the latest on the proposed cultural district in Kansas City, after a three-day public planning charrette where community members offered ideas on how the district could be designed and operated. Joining us for the conversation is Julián Zugazagoitia, CEO and Director of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

Laura Spencer / KCUR

A three-day public planning charrette — a workshop exploring the potential of a new cultural district — wraps up on Saturday afternoon. For the last few months, community volunteers in work teams have met to generate ideas about what this district could look like. 

Laura Spencer / KCUR

Big Data – it’s a catch phrase these days. But museums in cities across the country, from New York to Dallas to Cleveland, are taking cues from corporations and shopping malls, and collecting data to track visitor behavior. It’s starting to shape what’s on view.

In December, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art hired Doug Allen as its first chief information officer, to help analyze data and map a technology strategy.

"Technology will allow us to enrich the experience of a visit, and also allow for a pre-visit," says director and CEO Julián Zugazagoitia.

Suzanne Opton / The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

In the photograph, a young soldier with a downy blond buzz-cut lies perfectly still, face down on the ground. On stage, an ancient Greek warrior goes through the four stages of events that lead to post-traumatic stress.

The arts community is asking big questions about the life of the soldier. What role does art play in public discourse around combat?

Guests: 

Laura Spencer / KCUR

In 1914, at the outbreak of World War I, many artists put their art-making on hold, leaving their studios for the battlefield. Some in the United States waited for years for their country to enter the conflict, and others forged a new path in neutral Switzerland. It was a time of radical approaches in music, visual arts and literature. And now, local arts organizations are marking the centennial of the Great War. 

Music reflects change

Before First Fridays took off, most people in Kansas City would have been hard-pressed to identify a local arts district. But the Crossroads district has since attracted attention from throughout the city and beyond. And other arts districts have popped up around it. How will the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art's plans for a midtown cultural district fit into the bigger picture?

Guests:

Courtesy: The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

"We're still here," says Gaylene Crouser of the Kansas City Indian Center. That's one of the many things she'd like people to understand about American Indians, a detail they might not pick up from mainstream movies. How have recurring characters on-screen shaped our perceptions of what it means to be indigenous in America? 

Guests:

Laura Spencer / KCUR

The new exhibition at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, The Plains Indians: Artists of Earth and Sky, includes nearly 140 masterworks from private and public collections across North America and Europe. 

There’s a 2,000-year-old pipe, 18th century-painted robes and beaded designer shoes from 2011. 

Some curators might find it offensive if someone asked them to choose a few favorite works — well, actually, just two — from an exhibition they'd worked on for nearly five years. 

Julie Denesha / KCUR

The oldest, and longest-serving, employee at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art retired on Aug. 31.

Henry J. ("Hank") Raya studied at the Kansas City Art Institute and served in the U.S. Navy before working for two decades as an illustrator at The Kansas City Star. Then he stepped into a new career: as a security guard at the Nelson-Atkins, where he's helped the visitors and protected the art for 35 years. 

Courtesy Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art / Gift of the artist

The parody news site, The Onion, targeted the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Mo., last week in a story with this headline: "Museum Proudly Exhibits Picasso Shitty Enough To Be In Kansas City."

The article poked fun at the museum and its fictional acquisition of a Picasso pencil sketch, a "forgettable piece-of-shit doodle" filling up an entire wall. 

Courtesy / Nelson-Atkins

Earlier this month, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art released its preliminary plans for a cultural district surrounding its Midtown Kansas City neighborhood through an article in the Kansas City Star. The vision was expansive, conceivably stretching as far north as Hyde Park, south to Brookside, west to the Country Club Plaza and east to the Paseo.

Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art has unveiled plans for a bold expansion. The museum is talking about greater green spaces, walkways, and more sculptures as part of a gleaming cultural district. The new district would extend a mile in every direction from Oak Street and Emanuel Cleaver Boulevard. It’s a huge statement that could carry some pain as pieces of nearby historic neighborhoods would vanish to make way for this new vision.

Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

Kansas City residents have been known to, as Michael Cross likes to say, “cuddle,” on the grounds of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

What many of these lovers may not realize, is that there are always guards monitoring the museum and the lawn, both on foot and via video cameras.

Michael Cross, manager of security facilities and visitor services for the Nelson-Atkins, has been keeping an eye on the grounds for seven years.

“As long as nobody’s interfering with the artwork we try to leave people alone,” Cross says.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

Robins hopped on the manicured lawn at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art on Wednesday as New York-based artist Robert Morris and a small entourage previewed his new work, "Glass Labyrinth." The 7-foot-tall triangular sculpture consists of one-inch thick glass plate walls topped with bronze.

The official opening of "Glass Labyrinth" takes place Thursday in a public ceremony on the museum's south lawn. It marks the 25th anniversary of the 22-acre Donald J. Hall Sculpture Park.

Two museum exhibitions currently in Kansas City are using tomb relics to bring ancient times and faraway places to life.  These artifacts have survived journeys of thousands of miles and thousands of years.

Courtesy: Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA)

There are more than 200 works in the traveling exhibition, Roads of Arabia: Archaeology and History of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, from the fourth millennium B.C. to the 1930s.

The exhibit, now at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Mo., features prehistoric tools and figures sculpted by early inhabitants, as well as ceramic vessels, jewelry, coins, tombstones and sculptures — ranging in size from small to monumental.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

Imagine spending a year – or more – restoring an artwork, trying to bring back the touch, or the brushstroke, of a master. That’s what Scott Heffley, senior conservator of paintings at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, has been doing with an El Greco painting (ca. 1580-1585) called The Penitent Magdalene

Art and science do mix

Josh Ferdinand / Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

If you’ve walked or driven by the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art recently you’ve probably noticed a flurry of activity on the southeast corner of the grassy lawn. Work is underway to ready the site for the installation of a new sculpture, Glass Labyrinth, a triangular-shaped, glass-walled labyrinth designed by artist Robert Morris, a native of Kansas City, Mo.

Pages