Jenny Fry is spending this summer in Kansas City as Visitor Research Intern at the venerable The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.
“The Nelson-Atkins represents true harmony between past and present,” she says. “The physical building itself sits on a historic plot of land with a beautiful neo-classical style building sitting in the center and a newly built oblong, rectangular Bloch building to the East. The history of the museum is just as interesting as the buildings themselves. A man by the name of William Rockhill Nelson, after protesting about the lack of culture in Kansas City, wrote in his will that all of the proceeds from his estate were to be given to the city for the “purchase of works of art and reproductions of works of fine arts, such as paintings, engravings, sculpture, tapestries, and rare books… which will contribute to the delectation and enjoyment of the public generally. ” Fifteen years later in 1930, when the museum’s foundation was being laid, the trustees of his estate began to purchase works of art. Now the museum has a rare Monet waterlilies scene, a large Asian Art collection, a notable European painting collection, and many more infamous pieces of art. The youthful sculpture park, turning 25 this year, surrounds the museum with the largest collection of Henry Moore bronzes, as well as the widely popular Shuttlecocks (the four Badminton birdies spread across the lawn.) Ask any Kansas City resident what a shuttlecock is and they know the Nelson has four. The Nelson provides such diverse and popular programs to the public that the museum reaches around 400,000 people per year. My job is to keep the public coming to these public programs by evaluating the visitor engagement and motivations for attending these events. I will be evaluating a public program in July called Picnic in Park, that the museum wishes to be one of the largest picnics ever created. Let’s all hope for good weather!”