Henry Bloch on his paintings’ new home…
Feb 24, 2017
Henry Bloch on his paintings’ new home at Nelson-Atkins: ‘They look fabulous’
Critics and connoisseurs will get their say on the new Bloch Galleries at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in due time. The only opinion that matters right now is that of Henry Bloch.
The 94-year-old Kansas City philanthropist and founder of H&R Block was on hand Friday as Nelson officials gave an early look of the refurbished suite of galleries. The spaces, which open to the public March 11, are the new home for 29 works Bloch and his late wife, Marion, donated after two decades of collecting.
“They look fabulous,” Bloch said. “Better here than in our house.”
A $12 million gift from the Marion and Henry Bloch Foundation financed the renovation of the gallery spaces, which are west of the Bloch Building and one floor up. The gift brings the technology, security and climate control to the highest of standards.
“We could have used just a few more nails and repainted the walls and made some room for the paintings,” said Julian Zugazagoitia, museum CEO and director. “But we had this one shot to get it right.”
The new galleries feature Bloch’s donated pieces — which include paintings by Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet, Paul Cezanne — next to the Nelson’s own European works from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. The galleries also feature cutting-edge display methods.
“Mr. Bloch loves technology but doesn’t like to see it,” said Erik Heitman, who oversaw the project for BNIM architects. “So we worked very closely with our consultant team to create a modern high-performance gallery environment where the art is on show and you’re not distracted by technology.”