As The Nelson-Atkins Museum Of Art Eyes Expansion, Here's How It Compares To Its Peers

Sep 22, 2016

Attendance is up at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art — 534,000 people visited in this fiscal year. The collection has grown by more than 20 percent in recent years. And more of the museum's artwork now travels on loan, to places such as Australia, China, Europe, Japan, and Taiwan: The museum loaned 379 pieces of art in this fiscal year, up from 32 in 2011.

But the Nelson-Atkins wants to be bigger and better.

The museum has a "constant demand for more" space, especially for staff offices and art storage, director of operations Mark Zimmerman said during a presentation of the museum's master plan at the Atkins Auditorium on Wednesday. He added that the Nelson-Atkins is also "smaller than its peers by over 100,000 square feet. Essentially, we have some catching up to do."  

So, who are these peer institutions?

The museum listed six around the country: ones with free admission, such as the Cleveland Museum of Art, DMA (Dallas Museum of Art), MIA (Minneapolis Institute of Art), and the Saint Louis Art Museum, as well as museums with entrance fees, such as the Denver Art Museum and the Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA).

Here are the latest numbers from the Nelson-Atkins:

Credit Courtesy of Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
Opened in 1933

  • Visitors: 534,000
  • Employees: 298
  • Space (in square feet): office, 60,000; gallery, 73,000; special exhibitions, 12,000; education, 16,000; conservation, 6,000; storage, 33,000
  • Parking: 450-space underground parking garage, street parking, and additional lot with 50 spaces north of the museum
  • Additions: Bloch Building, designed by architect Steven Holl, opened in 2007

Here are the same numbers for most of the Nelson's peer institutions (if we hear back from Indianapolis, we'll update the list): 

Credit Courtesy of Cleveland Museum of Art

Cleveland Museum of Art
Founded in 1913, and opened in 1916

  • Visitors: 705,171
  • Employees: 295 full-time and 125 part-time 
  • Space (in square feet): office, 55,300; gallery, 113,540; special exhibitions, 20,059; education, 9,869; conservation, 14,390; storage, n/a 
  • Parking: 610 spaces in the attached parking garage
  • Additions: Several through the years, including a renovation and expansion project, designed by Rafael Vinoly, completed in 2013

Credit Courtesy of Dallas Museum of Art

DMA (Dallas Museum of Art)
Established in 1903

  • Visitors: 707,700
  • Employees: 247 
  • Space (in square feet): office, 100,177; permanent exhibition, 130,695; special exhibition, 28,580; education, 21,900; art handling, 20,093; storage, n/a
  • Parking: 400 space underground parking garage, and nearby surface lots and garages
  • Additions: Harmon Wing, 1993, Eagle Family Plaza, 2016

Credit Courtesy of Denver Art Museum

Denver Art Museum
Established in 1893 as the Denver Artists Club

  • Visitors: 742,638
  • Employees: 200 full-time
  • Space: "The museum complex (North Building 210,000 square feet and the Hamilton Building 146,000 square feet) includes gallery space, special exhibition space, education and art conservation space.  Most staff offices are located in a separate, privately funded building adjacent to the Hamilton Building."
  • Parking: no dedicated parking, but a city-operated garage has public parking
  • Additions: Most recent, Hamilton Building, designed by Daniel Libeskind, in 2006

Credit Courtesy of MIA

MIA (Minneapolis Institute of Art),
Established in 1883 as the Minneapolis Society of Fine Arts 

  • Visitors: 758,961
  • Employees: 246 full-time
  • Space (in square feet): office, 31,290; gallery, 165,128; special exhibitions, 23,148; education, 17,800; art conservation, 5,800; storage, n/a
  • Parking: two surface parking lots and one ramp, as well as street parking in a residential area
  • Additions: original museum building, designed by McKim, Mead and White, opened in 1915; two major expansions, in 1974, designed by Kenzo Tange, and 2006, designed by Michael Graves

Credit Courtesy of Saint Louis Art Museum

Saint Louis Art Museum
Established in 1879 

  • Visitors: 482, 565
  • Employees: 204 full-time and 59 part-time
  • Space (in square feet): office, 11,000; gallery, 100,000; special exhibitions, 7,300; education, 15,000; conservation, 7,800; storage, 20,000
  • Parking: 300 spaces in underground garage, additional free parking in Forest Park parking lots 
  • Additions: In 2013, East Building, designed by David Chipperfield, increased gallery space by 30 percent

Read more about the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art campus master plan here

Laura Spencer is an arts reporter at KCUR 89.3. You can reach her on Twitter at @lauraspencer.