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Nelson-Atkins’ Bloch Building Celebrates 10th Anniversary

 Controversial, then Critically Acclaimed Expansion Designed by Architect Steven Holl

Kansas City, MO. May 31, 2017–The magical Bloch Building, an award-winning architectural marvel designed by Steven Holl as an expansion of The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, celebrates its 10th anniversary with a special exhibition, An Iconic Addition, that opens on June 7. The Bloch Building represents an architectural accomplishment of international importance as well as a turning point in architect Holl’s career. Although the project received criticism during its planning and construction, in the 10 years since opening, the iconic addition has become a point of civic pride and has received critical raves. The New York Times called it “a work of haunting power.” TIME Magazine proclaimed, “The effect against the nighttime sky is nothing short of magical.” The Bloch Building has become emblematic of Kansas City’s rising prominence in design and the fine and performing arts.

“The magnificent Bloch Building is a physical representation of the forward-thinking and inspirational leaders who made up the search and selection committees for an architect, then made Holl’s vision a reality,” said Julián Zugazagoitia, Menefee D. and Mary Louise Blackwell CEO & Director of the Nelson-Atkins. “Without the stewardship of Board leaders Henry Bloch, Adele and Donald J. Hall and Estelle and Morton Sosland, and Director Marc Wilson, this building would never have been built. They combined efforts to bring this project to fruition, and it is a symbol of their vision and tenacity.”

The Nelson-Atkins broke ground April 2, 2001 for the multiphase expansion and renovation, which increased the museum’s permanent collection space by 71 percent. The six-year-long construction process was complex and presented formidable engineering challenges to realize Holl’s novel vision. Running the length of a 67-story skyscraper laid on its side along the sloping eastern edge of the museum’s lush lawn, the airy Bloch Building presents a contemporary contrast to the Nelson-Atkins’ neoclassical beauty. The glacier-white lenses admit natural light into the gallery space by day and glow enchantingly by night.

“The Bloch Building allowed the Nelson-Atkins to expand in every way,” Zugazagoitia said. “Not only can we showcase more art, but the museum has increased its gatherings, events and festivals, resulting in an annual attendance of more than 550,000 visitors.”

The Bloch Lobby exhibition celebrating the 10th anniversary highlights the contributions and leadership of steering committee members Henry W. Bloch, Don and Adele Hall, and Morton and Estelle Sosland, and features reproduced archival material including architects’ sketches, materials documenting reactions, both critical and supportive, as well as video interviews with Holl. The exhibition is curated by Sarah Biggerstaff.

An Iconic Addition honors the Nelson-Atkins’s commitment to creating ideal spaces for the community to engage in art,” said Biggerstaff. “It takes visitors on a journey through the leadership’s careful planning, the community’s initial hesitation, and ultimately to the public embrace of the world-renowned Bloch Building.”

Special programs include a Sept. 8 performance by Quixotic on the north side of the museum. Architect Steven Holl will be the Mary Atkins Lecture speaker on Nov. 2.

The Bloch Lobby exhibition closes Jan. 14, 2018.

Photo credit: Roland Halbe

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

The Nelson-Atkins in Kansas City is recognized nationally and internationally as one of America’s finest art museums. The museum, which strives to be the place where the power of art engages the spirit of community, opens its doors free of charge to people of all backgrounds. The museum is an institution that both challenges and comforts, that both inspires and soothes, and it is a destination for inspiration, reflection and connecting with others.

The Nelson-Atkins serves the community by providing access to its renowned collection of nearly 40,000 art objects and is best known for its Asian art, European and American paintings, photography, modern sculpture, and new American Indian and Egyptian galleries. Housing a major art research library and the Ford Learning Center, the Museum is a key educational resource for the region. In 2017, the Nelson-Atkins celebrates the 10-year anniversary of the Bloch Building, a critically acclaimed addition to the original 1933 Nelson-Atkins Building.

The Nelson-Atkins is located at 45th and Oak Streets, Kansas City, MO. Hours are Wednesday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; Thursday/Friday, 10 a.m.–9 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Admission to the museum is free to everyone. For museum information, phone 816.751.1ART (1278) or visit nelson-atkins.org.

For media interested in receiving further information, please contact:

Kathleen Leighton, Manager, Media Relations and Video Production

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art