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Keith F. Davis Named Senior Curator of Photography at the Nelson-Atkins
Keith F. Davis built hallmark photographic collection acquired by Nelson-Atkins in 2005.

KANSAS CITY, MO.- Keith F. Davis, Curator of Photography at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, will assume new roles as the Museum‟s Senior Curator of Photography and as Advisor to the Hall Family Foundation. With this adjustment in status, Davis will step back from some current day-to-day duties to focus on the overall quality, direction and reputation of the Museum‟s photography endeavors and to advise and guide the Hall Family Foundation‟s support for that program.

While shifting from a full-time to an estimated half-time commitment, he will remain centrally involved in all key photography program matters. April M. Watson, Associate Curator of Photography, will assume some of Davis‟s former day-to-day duties, reporting both to him and to Marc F. Wilson, Menefee D. and Mary Louise Blackwell Director/CEO of the Nelson-Atkins. The transition is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

Wilson said Davis had developed a broad, long-term vision for the photography department that was created at the Nelson-Atkins in 2005, when the Museum acquired the Hallmark Photographic Collection that Davis built over many years.

“In an instant he established a world-class department, ably staffed, engaging in one of the most ambitious photography programs to be found on the planet,” Wilson said. “I know the department will not skip a beat as it adapts to a slightly new configuration.

“To my mind, Keith is the perfectly balanced curator. He has developed a discriminating but creative eye that ensures an artistic point of view to his thousands of acquisitions, while serving the interests of variety and high standards.”

Donald J. Hall, Chairman of the Hall Family Foundation, said he was pleased that Davis would continue to work with and advise the foundation.

“Keith Davis has created one of the finest photography collections in the world,” Hall said. “His knowledge of the field, his scholarship and his „eye‟ place him at the pinnacle of his field.”

The shift in responsibilities will allow Davis to focus on issues that are of particular importance to him: building a collection of continued international significance, shaping and guiding the Museum‟s exhibitions and public programs, and adding to the scholarship of the field through original research, writing and publishing.

“I am deeply committed to the Museum and the collection, to the Hall Family Foundation for its generous and enlightened support, and to our wonderful audience in the greater Kansas City region,” Davis said. “I also look forward to having a bit more time to spend with family and to work on a few personal projects.

“After the move of the Hallmark Photographic Collection to the Nelson-Atkins, the assembly of our talented photography department staff, and the first few annual cycles of exhibits and programs, this seemed an opportune time to take a partial step back. The result, I hope, will be a museum program that benefits from my new freedom to focus on the biggest issues.”

Davis arrived in Kansas City in August 1979 to become curator of the Hallmark Photographic Collection, which at that time included 650 works by 35 artists. Under his direction, the collection grew to 6,500 works by nearly 900 artists at the time of transfer to the Nelson-Atkins in December 2005. For this work, he was most recently recognized in the definitive history Great Collectors of Our Time: Art Collecting Since 1945 (Scala, 2008). Since 1979, Davis has curated nearly 100 exhibitions, authored 20 books and catalogues, and lectured widely across the United States and internationally.

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