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Catherine Futter named Director of Curatorial Affairs at Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
Futter, a specialist in American and European decorative arts, joined the Nelson-Atkins in 2002 as the inaugural Helen Jane and R. Hugh “Pat” Uhlmann curator of decorative arts. Photo: Mark McDonald.

KANSAS CITY, MO.- The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City announced the appointment today of Catherine Futter as Director of Curatorial Affairs, a position that leads the Nelson-Atkins’ dynamic curatorial team. Futter, who has been with the Nelson-Atkins for 13 years, was previously the Louis L. and Adelaide C. Ward Senior Curator of European Arts. Futter replaces Antonia Boström, who accepted the position of Keeper of Sculpture, Metalwork, Ceramics & Glass at The Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

“After a national consultation, it was obvious to me that we had the best candidate for this important position already at the Nelson-Atkins,” said Julián Zugazagoitia, the Menefee D. and Mary Louise Blackwell CEO & Director of the Nelson-Atkins. “Catherine has been growing dramatically as an arts leader and will thrive in this role.”

Futter has curated a number of permanent collection installations of European and American art from medieval to the present in the Nelson-Atkins and Bloch Buildings. She has organized exhibitions that highlight living artists, and also has led the museum’s efforts to spark an area conversation about creating a cultural district in the midtown area.

“I am delighted that Catherine will step into a larger role,” said Shirley Bush Helzberg, Chair of the Board of Trustees. “As much as she has brought in fresh artistic talent from all over the world, she is also creating fresh paths for new initiatives in Kansas City and at the Nelson-Atkins.”

Futter, a specialist in American and European decorative arts, joined the Nelson-Atkins in 2002 as the inaugural Helen Jane and R. Hugh “Pat” Uhlmann curator of decorative arts.

“I am extremely excited to embark on new experiences working with the Nelson-Atkins extraordinary collections, staff, trustees and community,” said Futter. “We have accomplished so much since I arrived here 13 years ago that I look forward to opportunities and possibilities to grow and strengthen all that we do.”

Futter 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. The exhibition traveled to four venues and was accompanied by a catalogue which was edited by Futter. Inventing the Modern World was a groundbreaking exhibition of extraordinary decorative arts and design shown at world’s fairs and represented the pinnacle of artistic and industrial ingenuity of their times. Futter carefully selected the finest and most compelling objects from international museums and private collections.

She also is the curator of numerous exhibitions at the Nelson-Atkins, most recently Jump In! Architecture Workshop and the venue curator for Ferran Adrià: Notes on Creativity and A Shared Legacy: Folk Art in America. 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.

Futter had been curator of decorative arts and historic houses at the Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, Va. Besides overseeing all ceramics, silver, furniture and metalwork in the collection, she was responsible for two late 18th century houses and their contents. Before that she was associate curator at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, where she organized several exhibitions encompassing 18th through 20th century decorative arts. She also worked with the museum’s period rooms, establishing a continuum of work with historical interiors.

Futter’s credentials include stints at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, Conn., in addition to her previous tenures in Norfolk and Minneapolis. Futter has curated varied museum exhibitions of decorative arts, including two traveling exhibitions for the Chrysler: “Ukiyo-e Woodblock Prints from the Virginia Japan Society” and “Ancient Gold Jewelry from the Dallas Museum of Art.” She also was co-curator of “Milestones of Modernism 1880-1940: Selections from the Norwest Collection,” the two-part “New England Hearth and Home,” and “When Our Ship Comes In: Chinese Export Porcelain from the Hodroff Collection,” all at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

Futter is a cum laude graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Medieval and Renaissance studies from Duke University, Durham, N.C., 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.

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