Nelson-Atkins Museum and other groups partner for JuneteenthKC

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art News Release

Contact: Kathleen Leighton, Manager, Media Relations and Video Production
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
(816) 751-1321

Nelson-Atkins Focuses on Emancipation with Juneteenth Celebration
Museum Joins Community for Kansas City’s JuneteenthKC Events

Kansas City, MO – In partnership with organizers of Kansas City’s JuneteenthKC events, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art has announced that a Juneteenth Celebration is set for June 10 at the museum. The day of activities will not only add to the museum’s robust festival schedule, but also will spotlight the city’s established Juneteenth celebrations.

Juneteenth is an abbreviation for June 19th and is the country’s oldest known celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. The celebration has its genesis in the announcement on June 19, 1865, in Galveston, Texas, when Union General Gordon Granger read an order that “all slaves are free,” more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued by President Abraham Lincoln.

The Nelson-Atkins Juneteenth event will add to the museum’s lively schedule of festivals and cultural events that attract more than 32,000 visitors a year: Chinese New Year, Passport to India, Kansas City’s Big Picnic, Deaf Culture Day, American Indian Cultural Celebration, and Day of the Dead.

“I am delighted that the Nelson-Atkins will now honor this pivotal moment in history and its implications for freedom and equality among all people,” said Julián Zugazagoitia, Menefee D. and Mary Louise Blackwell CEO & Director of the Nelson-Atkins. “The museum is a place for all cultures and times, and it is crucial that we learn from past oppression and showcase the work of artists who have expressed the joys and complexities of freedom.”

The Juneteenth Celebration builds on a moment in the museum’s history: In 1980, the Nelson-Atkins exhibited the actual Emancipation Proclamation, a document that changed the course of history. The exhibition was made possible by the late Horace Peterson III, who founded the Black Archives of Mid-America Inc. and who championed the celebration of Juneteenth in Kansas City.

“My father would be proud and so pleased that this vital celebration will now extend across greater Kansas City,” said Peterson’s daughter, Makeda Peterson, Director of JuneteenthKC. “My father would be happy to see that Juneteenth has become more than a celebration and now a movement that not only celebrates the vibrancy of African American culture but also a way for the urban core to renew bonds with the past, capture stories of struggle, and celebrate the progression and advancement of the urban corridor.”

On June 10, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Nelson-Atkins Juneteenth Celebration will feature live music, Kansas City 2Step, lemonade and picnic fare, plus artist demonstrations by Gullah Basket Weavers from South Carolina, Kansas City textile artist Nedra Bonds, Kansas City muralist Michael Toombs, Paul Anthony Smith, former Charlotte Street Foundation Artist-in-Residence, and Glenn North, 18th & Vine Poet Laureate and Director of Education and Public Programs for the Black Archives of Mid-America.

During a special presentation from Noon to 12:45 p.m. in Atkins Auditorium, artist Renée Stout will discuss appropriation and how the creative process can be a source of healing and empowerment. In celebration of the museum’s newly acquired Nkisi Nkondi in the African Art collection, she will discuss how her early encounters with African art at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History continue to inspire and influence her work as an artist.

Also on June 10, JuneteenthKC is developing an official JuneteenthKC Kick-off Parade and Rally within the 18th and Vine Historic District from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The following Saturday, June 17, JuneteenthKC will present Kansas City’s largest African American community celebration, the Juneteenth Official Festival in the 18th and Vine Historic District, from Noon to 9 p.m. The event will feature cultural activities, with retail and nonprofit vendors, plus live entertainment at the MetroPCS Main Stage. More than 500 youth swim lessons will be given away, honoring the life of Horace Peterson III, who died in a tragic swim accident in 1992.

The Kansas City Health Department will provide free vaccinations for children and adults, and the Charles Jude Blood Drive will be offered from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the American Jazz Museum. Also, in partnership with JuneteenthKC, Shane Ray with the Denver Broncos will host a youth football camp for up to 300 students, including 100 from the urban population, at his alma mater, Bishop Miege High School in Mission, Kan. At the Providence Medical Center Amphitheater in Bonner Springs, Kan., gates open at 5:30 p.m. for the 6:30 p.m. concert Funk Fest.

“It is a positive move forward for Kansas City to expand its recognition of Juneteenth,” said Kansas City textile artist Sonié Joi Thompson-Ruffin. “Freedom is cause for celebration across all communities.”

At the Nelson-Atkins, new Director of Education Anne Manning gave careful consideration to the existing lineup of festivals upon her arrival in September 2015. Manning noted that the museum has shown a strong and increasing commitment to acquire and feature work by African American artists, in partnership with community members, such as the 2014 acquisition of Charles White’s masterful painting Goodnight Irene. Also in 2014, the museum featured an exhibition History and Hope: Celebrating the Civil Rights Movement. The Nelson-Atkins in 2016 acquired Property, a poignant sculpture by Nick Cave, one of America’s foremost contemporary artists. More recently, collectors Sharon and John Hoffman gave the museum the lavish painting Saint Adrian by contemporary artist Kehinde Wiley.

And yet, the museum’s family festival line-up was not representative of the city’s African American community. In partnership with community leaders, Manning and her team initiated conversations about a Juneteenth celebration, which ultimately led to the June 10 event.

“The Nelson-Atkins is a place for self-discovery, learning, and connection for everyone in Kansas City,” Manning said. “Our collections, exhibitions, and programs highlight the creativity, history, and diversity of all cultures. Juneteenth is an opportunity for the Kansas City community to come together to learn about the history of slavery and oppression in our country and to celebrate the cultural achievements and contributions of African Americans.”

Details about the Nelson-Atkins festival can be found at www.nelson-atkins.org/calendar/Juneteenth-festival. Details about Kansas City’s Official JuneteenthKC events can be found at www.Juneteenth-KC.com. Kehinde Wiley’s Saint Adrian was a recent gift to the museum from collectors Sharon and John Hoffman.

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.

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