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Director of Educational Affairs Records

 Record Group
Identifier: RG-33

Scope and Contents Note

The Director of Educational Affairs Records, dated 1936 to 2001, consist of annual and monthly reports, correspondence, records related to the production of the film


  • Creation: 1936-2001

Restrictions on Access

Open to researchers. Appointments are necessary for the use of manuscript and archival collections.

Conditions Governing Use Note

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

Biographical / Historical Note

The Nelson-Atkins Education Department was created in 1934, largely due to the efforts of the museum’s first director, Paul Gardner. The museum offered educational programs before an actual department was formed. Gardner presented lectures and talks for adults soon after the museum opened in December 1933. Beginning in January 1934, the museum offered Saturday morning and afternoon story hours, and in the summer, they added art appreciation classes that consisted of marionette shows, crafts, and drawing classes. Gardner’s goal for the museum was to make it the center of the community’s cultural and artistic life, and the children’s programs were integral to his mission. As a result, the trustees supported the creation of an education department.

The department had both an adult division and a junior division, which initially focused on tours, classes, and activities for sixth graders but grew to also include seventh graders. Before 1946 the department was called the Department of Junior Education, though later was mainly referred to as the Department of Education. The title of the department and of the director varied depending on the director and who was referring to the department.

The first Director of Education was Frances O’ Donnell; she started in August 1934. O’ Donnell served in this position for five years and put together the basic elements of the educational programs. She worked in collaboration with the Kansas City Board of Education and the Arts Committee of the Kansas City Junior League to implement educational programs at the museum and began docent training courses to ensure the museum offered well executed tours and started the junior education program that focused on tours for sixth graders. (Later, in the 1940s, the junior education program included efforts to reach older students as well.) The junior education program included Saturday morning and afternoon classes for children that involved gallery games and activities. The addition of marionette shows, game trays, and the Little Museum for Young Moderns in the 1930s boosted the department’s attendance. These programmatic additions are reflected in many of the department’s reports.

Louise Nelson, O’ Donnell’s assistant, became Director of Education in 1939 and announced in December 1943 that she would be leaving for wartime service on March 31, 1944. Mary Louise Clifton succeeded her on February 1, 1944, and held the position until Louise Burton accepted the job in 1946. After Burton, James Seidelman became director in 1952. Under Seidelman and with assistance from the Junior League of Kansas City, the Junior Gallery and Creative Arts Center opened at the museum in January 1960 as a creative space for youth and included an exhibition gallery, art studios, classrooms, and an aread to hold receptions. Director of the Junior Gallery and Creative Arts Center was added to Seidelman’s title as a result. He revitalized many of the department’s educational programs and, with the help from the Junior League of Kansas City, implemented an initiative to create four films based on the docents’ tours.

In 1968 Larry Eikleberry took over as director of the department. During his term, he produced the film Traditions of European Painting, which won national awards and expanded the Education Department’s capabilities. He left the museum in 1978, and Ann Brubaker succeeded him the following year. One of her initiatives was to diversify the students who attended classes and programs by pushing for a greater racial and ethnic mix throughout the department staff.


2 Linear Feet (In 2 record center cartons.)

Language of Materials



This collection contains the records of the Director of the Education Department at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art that date from 1936 to 2001. It consists primarily of monthly reports, annual reports, and departmental reports but also includes files related to the Traditions of European Painting


The collections is divided into three series: Reports (Series I); Traditions of European Paintings Film Files (Series II); Ann Brubaker Records (Series III).

Immediate Source of Acquisition Note

Transfer; Accession number associated with this collection is 2002-06.

Accruals Note

Additions to the collection are anticipated.

Related Materials Note

RG 32 Education Department Records; Mary Louise (Clifton) Womer Papers (MSS 008).

Finding Aid of the Director of Educational Affairs Records, RG 33
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

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

4525 Oak St.
Kansas City MO 64111 United States