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Catherine Futter named to new leadership position at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
In addition to her new role as head of a large curatorial division, Futter is currently steering the museum’s wider discussion of a cultural district. Photo: Mark McDonald.

KANSAS CITY, MO.- During opening week for two special exhibitions at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, the museum has announced that Catherine L. Futter – responsible for both exhibitions – has been promoted to the Louis L. and Adelaide C. Ward Senior Curator of European Arts. The new title reflects a greatly expanded role for Futter as she heads a newly created division overseeing three existing departments: Arts of the Ancient World, European Paintings and Sculpture, and Architecture, Design and Decorative Arts, which includes American Decorative Arts.

“Catherine has grown tremendously through the years, and I have seen how she has both the leadership skills and talent to take on new challenges,” said Julián Zugazagoitia, the Menefee D. and Mary Louise Blackwell CEO & Director of the Nelson-Atkins. “In this new role, she is responsible for an integrated curatorial division inspired by the origins of this museum. Our founder, William Rockhill Nelson, referred to masterworks from these eras as Western Art, as he contemplated creating a legacy for Kansas City.”

In addition to her new role as head of a large curatorial division, Futter is currently steering the museum’s wider discussion of a cultural district, a conversation that involves concepts for 10, 20 to 30 years from now in Kansas City’s Midtown/Plaza area. She is the curator for the original exhibition Jump In! Architecture Workshop and responsible for the Nelson-Atkins presentation of Ferran Adrià: Notes on Creativity. Also, she is co-curator of A Shared Legacy: Folk Art in America, which opens March 28.

“I have known Catherine since she joined the museum, and I am delighted that she has grown into this position that embraces so many areas,” said Adelaide C. Ward, a longtime Trustee and supporter of the Nelson-Atkins. “This is a testament to her vision and passions. I am honored that the endowed position for European Art will continue to flourish and have impact in the community under Catherine’s leadership.”

Futter is a graduate of Duke University, where she concentrated in Medieval and Renaissance Studies, with a focus on Italian Renaissance paintings. She earned her doctorate from Yale University and developed a specialization in American and European decorative arts from 1850 to the present. In 2002, she joined the Nelson-Atkins as the Helen Jane and R. Hugh “Pat” Uhlmann Curator of Decorative Arts. She curated a major international loan traveling exhibition, Inventing the Modern World: Decorative Arts at World’s Fairs, 1851-1939, that opened at the Nelson-Atkins in 2012.

She has been critical in bringing contemporary artists into the Nelson-Atkins programs with celebrated and innovative exhibitions such as Resting Places Living Things: Designs by Michael Cross; Forever, an installation by Clare Twomey; The Future of Yesterday: Photographs of Architectural Remains of World's Fairs by Ives Maes; and Presence & Absence: New Works by Tom Price.

In more recent years, her title expanded to include Architecture and Design, as her projects stretched to include stewardship of the museum’s cultural district initiative. Futter also is a member of the museum’s Strategic Leadership Group, and she was a Fellow in 2014 with the Center for Curatorial Leadership.

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