Curator Bios

Catherine L. Futter, Ph.D.
Director of Curatorial Affairs
Catherine L. Futter was appointed Director of Curatorial Affairs in January, 2016. Prior to that, she was The Louis L. and Adelaide C. Ward Senior Curator of European Arts and The Helen Jane and R. Hugh “Pat” Uhlmann Senior Curator of Architecture, Design and Decorative Arts. She has completed several reinstallation projects for the museum as well as a major international loan traveling exhibition, Inventing the Modern World: Decorative Arts at World’s Fairs, 1851–1939, and several contemporary art and design exhibitions. Catherine has a BA in Medieval and Renaissance Studies from Duke University and a MA and PhD in the History of Art from Yale University. Her dissertation was on the 19th century New York interior decorating and furniture-manufacturing firm of Herter Brothers. Although Catherine is a generalist in the field of decorative arts, her specialization is in American and European decorative arts from 1850 to the present. She has focused on the interaction between different cultures and their influence on the decorative arts from the 15th century to the present.

Catherine’s investigation of the cross-cultural influences on the decorative arts has led to the publication of “Chinoiserie in Northern Italy – Japanned Decoration in a Rare Eighteenth-century Piedmontese Gabinetto in The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art,” in Furniture History and the essay “The Federation of Mankind: Cross-Cultural Influences in the Decorative Arts at the World’s Fairs” and co-editor with Jason T. Busch of the catalogue Inventing the Modern World: Decorative Arts at World’s Fairs, 1851–1939. Catherine has curated contemporary design and decorative arts exhibitions: Resting Places Living Things: Designs by Michael Cross; Forever; an installation by British ceramic artist Clare Twomey; and The Future of Yesterday: Photographs of Architectural Remains of World’s Fairs, sculptural photographs by Belgian artist Ives Maes. She has taught the history of European and American decorative arts 1750 to the present at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and the University of Kansas, Lawrence, as an undergraduate and graduate course and lectured extensively on decorative arts.

Stephanie Fox Knappe, Ph.D.
Samuel Sosland Curator of American Art
Stephanie Fox Knappe, Samuel Sosland Curator of American Art, holds a doctoral degree in art history from University of Kansas where she taught several courses. She was the exhibition coordinator for the first traveling retrospective exhibition of the work of Aaron Douglas and served as acting curator, European and American painting and sculpture, at the Spencer Museum of Art at KU before joining the staff at the Nelson-Atkins.

Knappe has published articles on a variety of topics and contributed to the exhibition catalogues Tales from the Easel: American Narrative Paintings from Southeastern Museums, circa 1800-1950; Aaron Douglas: African American Modernist; Romancing the West: Alfred Jacob Miller in the Bank of America Collection; and Go West! Art of the American Frontier from the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. She also contributed scholarship to The Collections of the Nelson-Atkins: American Paintings to 1945.

In addition to numerous small-scale shows often dedicated to American art on paper, Knappe curated the featured exhibition Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera and Masterpieces of Modern Mexico from the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection and served as venue curator for the Nelson-Atkins’ featured exhibitions To Make a World: George Ault and 1940s America; Shared Legacy: Folk Art in America; Rising Up: Hale Woodruff’s Murals at Talladega College; American Epics: Thomas Hart Benton and Hollywood; and for the Kansas City presentation of 30 Americans and the upcoming Robert Blackburn & Modern American Printmaking.

Knappe has served as a juror for multiple national exhibitions and is also a mentor with the Andrew W. Mellon Undergraduate Curatorial Fellowship program.

Gaylord Torrence
Fred and Virginia Merrill Senior Curator of American Indian Art
Gaylord Torrence joined the Nelson-Atkins’ staff as founding curator of the Department of American Indian Art in 2002. He has built much of the institution’s highly regarded Native American collection and led the creation of an expansive suite of galleries, opened in 2009. A catalogue of the museum’s Native American holdings is currently in production and will be published in early 2020.

In 2018, Torrence guest-curated Art of Native America: The Charles and Valerie Diker Collection, a permanent installation in the American Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In 2014-15, he guest-curated the celebrated exhibition The Plains Indians: Artists of Earth and Sky, originating at musée du Quai Branly in Paris and traveling to the Nelson-Akins and The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Drawn from eighty-one institutions and private collections across North America and Europe, the exhibition offered the first comprehensive survey of the art of the Plains Indians. Catalogues accompanied both presentations.

From 2014-2017, Torrence served on a three-person team of visiting scholars and guest curators for Plains Indian Art: Created in Community, The Helmerich Center for American Research at the Gilcrease Museum. From 2000-2003, he served as consulting curator and contributing author for the exhibition and publication Arts of Diplomacy: Lewis and Clark’s Indian Collection, organized by the Peabody Museum, Harvard University.

Gaylord Torrence is Professor Emeritus in Fine Arts, Drake University, and the author of The American Indian Parfleche: A Tradition of Abstract Painting (1994); and Art of the Red Earth People: The Mesquakie of Iowa (1989). His projects have received funding from the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities, Rockefeller Foundation, Wallace Fund, Eugene and Claire Thaw Foundation, Meredith Foundations, Metropolitan Life Foundation, and Terra Foundation for American Art.

Stefanie Kae Dlugosz-Acton
Assistant Curator, Architecture, Design and Decorative Arts
Stefanie Kae Dlugosz-Acton was appointed assistant curator of Architecture, Design and Decorative Arts at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in May 2016. She received her Master’s Degree in Art History from Indiana University in Bloomington, where she worked as a Graduate Assistant to the Director and Curator of Western Art to 1800. Her previous experience includes a fellowship at the Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research where she curated Simple Forms, Stunning Glazes: the Gerald W. McNeely Collection of Pewabic Pottery at the Cranbrook Art Museum. She has also held positions at The Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art at Indiana University, and the Dallas Museum of Art. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Fibers and Art History from the Kansas City Art Institute.

Ling-en Lu, Ph.D.
Associate Curator, Chinese Art
Ling-en Lu, Associate Curator of Early Chinese Art, joined the Museum in 1999. Born in Taiwan, she holds a doctoral degree in Art History from the University of Kansas as well as a Master’s of Library Science from Indiana University. Ling-en has actively presented papers at Art History conferences and has published several articles on Chinese paintings.

During her tenure at the Museum, she has been a part of coordinating The Golden Age of Chinese Archaeology, a special international exhibition organized by the museum and the National Gallery of Art in 1999, and has contributed to the two-volume book, New Perspectives on China’s Past: Chinese Archaeology in the Twentieth Century, which was published by Yale University Press and The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in 2004.

Aimee Marcereau DeGalan, Ph.D.
Louis L. and Adelaide C. Ward Senior Curator of European Art

Aimee Marcereau DeGalan is the Louis L. and Adelaide C. Ward Senior Curator of European Art. Marcereau DeGalan came to the Nelson-Atkins from The Dayton Art Institute (DAI), where she was Chief Curator and Curator of European Art. A specialist in British and French 18th and 19th-century art, Marcereau DeGalan leads the European Arts division, which includes the departments of Ancient Art, European Paintings & Sculpture and Architecture, Design and Decorative Arts. She conducts senior-level research exhibition and catalogue projects and is responsible for acquisitions, interpretation and presentation of the European collections.

Marcereau DeGalan was hired at the DAI in 2012 as Curator of Collections and Exhibitions. Previously, she held curatorial posts at the Fleming Museum of Art at the University of Vermont, The Cleveland Museum of Art and The Detroit Institute of Arts.

Rima Girnius, Ph.D.
Associate Curator of European Painting and Sculpture
Rima Girnius is the Associate Curator of European Painting and Sculpture. Although her interest in European art range from Medieval art to court culture in Renaissance Italy and 17th century Spanish painting, she specializes in Early Modern German and Dutch painting. She holds a doctorate degree in art history from Bryn Mawr College, completing her dissertation on the pictorial spaces of Rembrandt’s history paintings. Prior to joining  the Nelson Atkins in September 2015, she served as the curator at the Figge Art Museum and the Allen Whitehill Clowes Fellow at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. She also participated in the Western Illinois Museum Studies Program as a guest lecturer and adjunct faculty member.

MacKenzie Mallon
Specialist, Provenance
MacKenzie Mallon is Specialist, Provenance at the Nelson-Atkins, where she oversees provenance research, procedures, documentation and review in conjunction with the curatorial departments.  A Kansas City native, Mallon received her BA in History and MA in Art History from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Mallon’s primary research interest is Nazi-era provenance and the art market during World War II. She was the curator of record for the installation Braving Shells for Art: the Monuments Men of the Nelson-Atkins and is the author of “A Refuge from War: The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and the Evacuation of Art to the Midwest during World War II” (Getty Research Journal, February 2016). In addition to her work on provenance research and documentation, Mallon is currently studying the initial development of the Nelson-Atkins collection during the early 1930s.

Keith F. Davis
Senior Curator, Photography
Keith F. Davis is Senior Curator of Photography at the Nelson-Atkins and also serves as an advisor to the Hall Family Foundation. He received a master’s degree in 1979 in art history from the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque. After a research internship at the International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House, Rochester, New York, 1978-79, he became Curator of the Fine Art Collections, Hallmark Cards, Inc. Upon the gift to the museum of the Hallmark Photographic Collection, in December 2005, Davis became the Nelson-Atkins’s founding curator of photography.

Since 1979, he has curated some 80 exhibitions, many of which have been toured to leading museums across the United States and, internationally, from Sydney, Australia, to Lausanne, Switzerland. In addition to teaching and lecturing widely on the history of photography, he is the author of nearly twenty catalogues and books, including An American Century of Photography, From Dry-Plate to Digital: The Hallmark Photographic Collection, 2nd edition (Abrams, 1999); The Origins of American Photography, From Daguerreotype to Dry-Plate, 1839-1885 (HFF/NAMA/Yale, 2007); and The Photographs of Homer Page: The Guggenheim Work, New York 1949-50 (HFF/NAMA/Yale, 2009). His various awards include a Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities (1986-87) for his work on the Civil-War era photographer George N. Barnard. He was honored to be featured in James Stourton’s Great Collectors of Our Time: Art Collecting Since 1945 (Scala, 2007).

April M. Watson, Ph.D.
Curator, Photography
April M. Watson holds a doctorate in Art History from the University of Kansas and an MA in Art History from the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque. She has a BFA in graphic design from Alfred University. Since she began at the Nelson-Atkins in 2007, Watson has organized numerous exhibitions. Most recently, Watson co-curated the exhibition Eugene Richards: The Run-On of Time, the photographer’s first museum retrospective. In 2013, she served as the photography curator for Impressionist France: Visions of Nation from Le Gray to Monet, an exhibition of paintings and photographs co-organized with the Saint Louis Art Museum. In addition, she has curated and co-curated several exhibitions from the permanent collection, including Through the Lens: Visions of African-American Experience, 1950-1970; Heartland: The Photographs of Terry Evans, a career retrospective of the artist; About Face: Contemporary Portraiture; Thinking Photography: Five Decades at the Kansas City Art Institute; Time in the West: Photographs by Mark Klett & Byron Wolfe and Mark Ruwedel; Human/Nature: Recent European Landscape Photography; and Hide & Seek: Picturing Childhood. She has also served as the venue curator for the loan exhibitions Richard Learoyd: In the Studio; Edward Steichen: In High Fashion The Condé Nast Years, 1923-1937; and Beloved Daughters: Photographs by Fazal Sheikh. Currently, she is working with the Gordon Parks Foundation on an exhibition and catalogue featuring Parks’s photographs of Muhammad Ali, slated to be on view at the Nelson-Atkins in winter 2019.

Prior to joining the Nelson-Atkins, Watson served as a curatorial research assistant at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. and was an NEA curatorial intern at the Center for Creative Photography, Tucson. Watson has contributed writing and scholarship to numerous exhibitions and catalogues for the University of New Mexico Art Museum, the Center for Creative Photography, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Corcoran Gallery of Art and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. She has also contributed research and writing to several artist monographs.

Jane Aspinwall
Curator & Collections Supervisor, Photography
Jane L. Aspinwall holds a doctorate in Art History from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and an MBA from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She has worked with the Hallmark Photographic Collection since 1999 and was the first member of the Photography department after the Hallmark collection was gifted to the Nelson-Atkins in 2005. Aspinwall has organized numerous exhibitions, most recently: Golden Prospects: California Gold Rush Daguerreotypes. Other exhibitions include, The Big Picture: A Transformative Gift from the Hall Family Foundation; Dignity vs Despair: Dorothea Lange and Depression-Era Photographers; Surveillance Photography; Across the Indian Country: Photographs by Alexander Gardner; In the Looking Glass: Recent Daguerreotype Acquisitions; About Face: Contemporary Portraiture; Heartland: The Photographs of Terry Evans; Cabinet of Curiosities: Photography & Specimens; Timothy H. O’Sullivan: The King Survey Photographs; Heavens: Photographs of the Sky and Cosmos; Exploring Egypt: 19th Century Expeditionary Photography; Hide & Seek: Picturing Childhood; Restoration: Robert & Shana ParkeHarrison; In the Public Eye: Photography & Fame; Developing Greatness: The Origins of American Photography; and Celebrating a Grand Gift: The Hallmark Photographic Collection. Aspinwall also curated the traveling exhibitions, Photographic Wonders: American Daguerreotypes from The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and Celebrating Picasso: Photographs by David Douglas Duncan. Currently, she is working on an exhibition and catalogue about the portfolio of Alfred Eisenstaedt, on view in January 2021.

Aspinwall has contributed to and authored several books including, Golden Prospects: Daguerreotypes of the California Gold Rush; Alexander Gardner: The Western Photographs; Heartland: The Photographs of Terry Evans; Timothy H. O’Sullivan: The King Survey Photographs; and The Origins of American Photography: From Daguerreotype to Dry-Plate. She also holds a certificate in Care of Photographic Collections from the International Preservation Studies Center.

Kimberly Masteller, Ph.D.
Jeanne McCray Beals Curator of South and Southeast Asian Art
Kimberly Masteller is the Jeanne McCray Beals Curator of South and Southeast Asian Art at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Before coming to the Nelson-Atkins in 2008, Masteller held the position of Assistant Curator of Islamic and Later Indian Art at the Harvard Art Museums from 2002–2008. Masteller has curated several exhibitions at the Nelson-Atkins, including: Revealing a Hidden Treasure: A Jain Shrine from India, Echoes: Islamic Art and Contemporary Artists, and the traveling exhibitions Roads of Arabia: Archaeology and History of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and From the Land of the Taj Mahal: Paintings for India’s Mughal Emperors from the Chester Beatty Library. She is the author of Masterworks from India and Southeast Asia: The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art (2016). Her recent publications include “Arthur Upham Pope and Collecting Persian Art in Kansas City,” in Arthur Upham Pope. (2016), and “Echoes and Resonance: Creating Dialogues between Historical Islamic Art, Contemporary Art and Museum Audiences,” in Global Trends in Modern and Contemporary Islamic Art. (2015).

Along with her curatorial work, Masteller has served as an adjunct instructor in Asian and Islamic art history at the Kansas City Art Institute, the University of Missouri, Kansas City, the University of Kansas, the Art Institute of Boston, Ohio University, and The Ohio State University and held the position of visiting assistant professor of art history at Denison University. Masteller has also contributed as a consultant for the Advanced Placement Art History program. Masteller holds a Ph.D. in the history of art from The Ohio State University, a Master’s degree in art history from Ohio University, and a B.A. from Muskingum University. She is a recipient of grants from the Fulbright Fellowship program and the Social Science Research Council.