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Made in America: Ten Centuries of American Art Exhibition Records

 Record Group
Identifier: RG-24-35

Scope and Contents

The Made In America: Ten Centuries of American Art records include correspondence within and between the consortium museums, object lists and curatorial correspondence, exhibition catalog drafts and associated correspondence, meeting minutes and memos related to the complex planning of the five-museum exhibition, documents which reflect the Nelson-Atkins’s role in the consortium as overseeing national fundraising and publicity including major fundraising proposals to the Ford Motor Company, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts, and files on programming and educational efforts.


  • 1990-1998

Restrictions on Access

Selected folders and documents in Series I and II are restricted and may not be accessed by external researchers.

Conditions Governing Use Note

Notification of intent to publish, quote, or cite archival materials is required. Contact the archives via

Biographical / Historical

In the mid-1980s, the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art (Kansas City, MO), the Carnegie Museum of Art (Pittsburgh, PA), the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, the Saint Louis Art Museum, and the Toledo Museum of Art realized their respective collections had similarities that spanned beyond the walls of the individual institutions. This realization led to the idea of bringing together their Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works into a traveling consortium exhibition. The result was Impressionism: Selections from Five American Museums, which ran from 1989-1990. The show was so well-received by the public that the museums decided to continue collaborating. Their second joint project was the exhibition Made in America: Ten Centuries of American Art.

Planning for Made in America began in 1991. The museums sought to represent American art as existing across a broad span of time. The early iteration of the catalog title Anasazi to Elvis: Ten Centuries of American Art illustrates this goal, covering ten centuries of art in North America from American Indian Anasazi pottery to Andy Warhol‘s 1960’s Elvis print. The 160 works from these ten centuries included in the exhibition were divided into the categories Ancient America, Colonial and Federal America, Democratic Vistas, American Impressions, Native American Art, Artistic Interiors, The Modern Age, and Art after World War II.

A benefit of working as a collective was that each museum not only contributed works of art and locations to house them, but they were also able to divide up the tasks of the complex project among staff members from each institution. Henry Adams (Curator of American Art, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art), Kathryn C. Johnson (Director of Education, Minneapolis Institute of Art), and Michael E. Shapiro (Curator of 19th and 20th Century Art, Saint Louis Art Museum) curated the bulk of the objects included in the exhibition. In addition, Adams was a major contributor to its catalog, the development of which was overseen by the Saint Louis Art Museum. He resigned from his position as Curator of American Art in September 1993. Margaret Conrads, Associate Curator of American Art at the Nelson-Atkins, succeeded Adams in his leadership role in the project and as Curator of American Art.

Minneapolis took the lead on consortium coordination and administrative tasks, led by Johnson. In addition to Adams’ role in curating, the Nelson-Atkins Museum handled national fundraising and publicity efforts on the part of the consortium. The Toledo Museum of Art was in charge of transportation and insurance, as well as product development for museum gift shop merchandise inspired by the works from the exhibition. The Carnegie Museum of Art prepared the interpretive video for the consortium locations and provided their conservator for conservation needs.

The museum directors included Marc Wilson at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, James D. Burke at The Saint Louis Art Museum, Phillip M. Johnston as The Carnegie Museum of Art, Evan M. Maurer at The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, and David W. Steadman at The Toledo Museum of Art. Grants and funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation supported their efforts and defrayed costs.

For more information, see exhibition catalog Made in America: Ten Centuries of American Art, by Kathryn C. Johnson and Henry Adams (et al.)


2 Linear Feet (In 2 record center cartons.)

Language of Materials



This collection contains the records of the planning and execution of the Made in America consortium exhibition, held at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in 1996. The collection, dated 1990-1998, primarily consists of correspondence, consortium meeting minutes, object lists and other curatorial documents, grant proposals, the catalog draft and related correspondence, press releases, information on education and public programs for the exhibit, and material related to the consortium.


The Made in America: Ten Centuries of American Art Exhibition Records are divided into five series: Planning, Curatorial, Catalog, Education and Programming, and Publicity.

Immediate Source of Acquisition Note

Transfer; accession numbers associated with this collection are 1998-01, 1999-09, and 2003-04.

Accruals Note

Additions to the collection are not anticipated.

Related Materials Note

For more information, see exhibition catalog Made in America: Ten Centuries of American Art, by Kathryn C. Johnson and Henry Adams (et al.)

Finding Aid of the Made in America: Ten Centuries of American Art Exhibition Records, RG 24/35
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art Archives Repository

4525 Oak St.
Kansas City MO 64111 United States