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Silver Splendor


Extensive Conservation Work Documented for Visitors

Kansas City, MO. May 10, 2022–A pair of ornate silver thrones with an intriguing history will be revealed at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City beginning May 21. Silver Splendor: Conserving the Royal Thrones of Dungarpur, India will present the dazzling royal assemblage following a multi-year conservation effort to bring them to their original glory, a process that is documented for visitors with a video in the exhibition.

“These magnificent thrones demonstrate the power and grandeur of India’s historical rulers,” said Julián Zugazagoitia, Menefee D. and Mary Louise Blackwell CEO & Director of the Nelson-Atkins. “Yet along with tradition, we also see change. Created by an Indian king during the British Colonial era in India, the thrones combine both European and Indian design and imagery.”

In 1911, King George V was crowned Emperor of India in a lavish ceremony in Delhi. Also in 1911, this pair of silver thrones was commissioned for the ruler of Dungarpur, a small kingdom in the western Indian state of Rajasthan. Because the thrones were commissioned the same year as the coronation, it is believed they were made in time to receive touring dignitaries at court during the 1911 celebrations.

“While visitors will be dazzled by the materials and the wonderful workmanship of the silver, I encourage everyone to look closely at the decoration. said Kimberly Masteller, Jean McCray Beals Curator of South and Southeast Asian Art. “The imposing lions are signs of kingship and the Hindu deities depicted on the backrest are associated with the Dungarpur kingdom and royal lineage. The Dungarpur thrones and their regalia have many stories to tell. They reveal complex histories of cultural exchange and the representation of political power.”

A former Dungarpur king brought the thrones to Europe in 1969 and the Nelson-Atkins acquired them in 2013. Since then, the museum conservators painstakingly cleaned the silver and overlaid the worn velvet of the thrones and footstools with new, hand-dyed fabric. With the assistance of local and international partners, including Lesage Intérieurs in Paris, a reproduction of the assemblage’s chhatri, a large, embroidered parasol, was also completed using a combination of advanced technologies and traditional Indian materials and techniques. A selection of Indian paintings and decorative arts workshop drawings will accompany the thrones to explore the influence of European aesthetics in Indian furniture design.

Image credit: Royal Throne, 1911. Molded and carved silver sheet, wrapped around a wood core, with silk velvet, brocaded silk and horse or ox tail. 59 1/16 x 31 1/2 x 35 7/16 inches (150 x 80 x 90 cm). Purchase: William Rockhill Nelson Trust through the George H. and Elizabeth O. Davis Fund. 2013.10.2.1

Organized by The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Generous support for the exhibition provided by the Richard J. Stern Foundation for the Arts. Additional support provided for research and conservation by the David Woods Kemper Memorial Foundation and JE Dunn Construction.

We also wish to thank the following partners and consultants on this exhibition:

  • MK Harshvardhan Singh Dungarpur, MP
  • Staff of the Udai Bilas Palace, Dungarpur
  • Lesage Intérieurs, Paris
  • Kate Garland and Paul Benson, Nelson-Atkins Object Conservators, retired
  • Cara Varnell, Textile Arts Conservation Studio
  • Steve Goslin, 3D Creative Technology Analyst, Hallmark Cards Inc.
  • Keda McKenna, Creative Textiles Resource Consultant, Hallmark Cards Inc.
  • Pauline Verbeek-Cowart, Kim Eichler-Messmer, and Marie Bannerot McInerney, Fiber department, Kansas City Art Institute
  • Aldo Bacchetta and Steve Gardels, Media Center, Kansas City Art Institute
  • R. Bruce North, MSCE, Conservation Volunteer
  • Pramod Kumar KG, Eka Archiving Services Pvt. Ltd.
  • Wynyard R. T. Wilkinson, Esq.
  • Jochin K. Bautze, PhD



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 more than 42,000 art objects and is best known for its Asian art, European and American paintings, photography, modern sculpture, and Native American 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 Monday, 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. The museum is closed Tuesday. 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