Nelson-Atkins Unveils New Bloch Galleries


Museum members get a first look at the new Bloch Galleries.

Sophia Belshe, Assistant Editor-in-Chief, Opinion Editor

After months of construction, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art finally unveils its newest additions to its collection in a newly renovated section of the museum. Although it’s not officially open to the public, museum members got an exclusive first look at the brand new Bloch Galleries over the past two weekends, and they did not disappoint.

The new exhibit centers heavily on Impressionism and Post-Impressionism of the 19th century, with work by big names such as Edgar Degas, Éduard Manet, Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, and Vincent van Gogh.

Many of the new additions were donated by Henry Bloch. Others featured in the newly renovated area were purchased by the Nelson, or were moved from other areas of the museum.

One of the center pieces of the collection is the right panel of Monet’s Water Lilies triptych. The piece is breathtaking, and features a unique, interactive element. Visitors can change the color of the overhead lighting so as to view the painting, literally, in a different light. The altering of the lighting evokes different colors and focal points in the piece.

Interactive elements are present throughout the exhibit, melding 21st century technology with two hundred year old art. And, no, interactive does not mean you can touch the art. The Nelson has added iPads and large, touch screen computers periodically throughout the exhibit. These devices allow visitors to zoom in on certain sections of paintings, read background information on artists and play with color creation.  

The collection not only features beautiful, well-known additions, but since not every piece can be a van Gogh, it also includes some lesser-known pieces that stand up against the heavy hitters. The collection offers an intriguing mix of art, while still following a common theme from room to room.

Everything from the design of the exhibit to the periodic additions of furniture and household items from the time period is evocative of big name museums such as The Met in New York City, and I feel quite certain that this exhibition would stand up in those prestigious art institutions.

The newest gallery offers visitors a more in depth look into Impressionism, a period that was rather lacking at the museum prior to this addition. It wonderfully rounds off the Nelson’s collection, and serves as a great addition to Kansas City’s art scene.

The exhibit opens admission free to the public March 11, and is a must-see for every art lover.