When I arrived in Kansas City for the first time this past spring, my first impression was of a sophisticated, thriving city that offers the best of many worlds. I was struck by the cranes moving across the landscape with the construction of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, and I could feel the artistic energy in the Crossroads Arts District. I sensed a strong synergy between the business, scientific and higher education communities in Kansas City.
Most importantly, I was awed by The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, an institution that has captured the world’s attention with its stellar collection, its commitment to great art and an expansion that has been called one of the greatest buildings in the world. I am privileged to be the fifth director of this revered institution, and I am humbled to follow in the steps of Marc F. Wilson.
My wife and two children and I are thrilled to call Kansas City our home. I will admit to some adjustments, moving from New York to Kansas City. Rather than seeking out the next taxi or subway, I now own an automobile for the first time in my life. I see more of the sun each day, I have a yard with lush green grass, and best of all, my children can now have a pet! (Or two or three.)
In my first days at the Museum, my plan is to listen and learn. I want to meet our loyal supporters, our staff and volunteers, and civic leaders throughout the area. I also want to explore the magnificent collection of art at the Nelson-Atkins. The curators have pledged to help me bring the collections to life in a series of evening conversations open to everyone, Art Tasting with Julián, when we look at art of the highest quality, across times and civilizations. I hope to see you at the Museum for those gatherings.
This fall, my family and I also will be getting to know Kansas City – its jazz, parks, fountains, shops and the best trails for biking. I’ve already experienced some of the city’s great restaurants, but I have much to learn. For instance, what is the difference between a short end and a long end? And what are burnt ends?
Clearly, I will be seeking answers to many questions in the weeks ahead.
I look forward to meeting each of you at the Museum.
Menefee D. and Mary Louise Blackwell Director & CEO