There are more than 35,000 works of art house at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art which are divided into 14 exciting collections: African; American; American Indian; Ancient; Architecture, Design, and Decorative Arts; Chinese; Contemporary; Donald J. Hall Sculpture Park; European; Japanese; Modern; Photography; Prints and Drawings; South, Southeast, and West Asian. This wide variety of collections allows visitors to experience new and unique connections to the art world.
The African artwork collection has more than 400 works of artfrom a variety of materials that spans approximately 2,500 years of African history. Much of the highlights of the collection are sculptures of human figures an elaborate headdresses, ceramics, and bodily ornaments. The Museum began collecting African art in 1958, after receiving two 17th-century cast brass objects from Nigeria.
The American artwork collection features works of art from the 18th century through World War II, and contains paintings, sculptures and works on paper made in the United States during that era. Highlights from the collection are mainly oil on canvas paintings of people and landscapes from the time. The Museum began collecting American artwork in the 1970s after a generous gift from the Enid and Crosby Kemper Foundation.
The American Indian artwork collection is one of the most notable collections of the Museum and includes North American cultural and historical objects from pre-European contact to the present day. Highlights of the collection include pottery, traditional garbs, jewelry, tools, and headdresses. The collection is already quite vast and is still expanding today thanks to generous donors.
The Ancient artwork collection spans more than 4,000 years of the great civilizations of the Near East – Egypt, Greece, and Rome. The Museum acquired this collection in 2007 which occupies almost an entire gallery. Some highlights of the collection are exquisite jewelry from Greece, 304 servant statues from ancient Egypt, and private portraits from Early Roman Christian Art..
The Architecture, Design, and Decorative Arts collection contains a wide variety of decorative arts from medieval stained glass to 21stcentury furniture. Highlights of the collection are 18th-century English silver, European Furniture, and pre-industrial British pottery. The representation of the arts and crafts movement of the 21stcentury can also be found. This collection aims to highlight social, economic, political, religious, and artistic contexts of the past and hopefully lead to a greater understanding of said issues in the future.
The Chinese artwork collection has more than 7,000 items spanning 5,000 years and is considered one of the finest in the West. Included in the collection are ancient bronzes and jades, Chinese painting from the 10th through the 13th centuries, Buddhist sculpture and wall paintings, and even Chinese furniture, ceramic and textiles.
The Contemporary artwork collection is diverse and covers work 1960 to the present. The main highlight of the collection is a generous gift from the Hall Family Foundation’s Modern Sculpture Initiative – The Noguchi Sculpture Court. This collection shows the influence of European Surrealism and American Minimalism in the modern sculpture world.
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