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Department of South and Southeast Asian Art Records

 Record Group
Identifier: RG-08

Scope and Contents Note

The earliest materials in these files date from the department’s creation as a separate department distinct from the Department of Asian Art in 1981 and document the tenures of Dorothy Fickle, Ph.D, and Dorothy Srinivasan, Ph.D. The record group includes general administrative documents, correspondence, notes on collection and object research, departmental acquisitions, as well as staff lectures and trips. The records also heavily document events such as the American Council for Southern Asian Art (ACAA) symposium in 1985, “Celebrating India and Pakistan: 50 Years of Independence” and accompanying "Mela" in 1997, and the symposium, "On the Cusp of Era: Art in the Pre-Kushan World" in 2000. Exhibitions such as Gods, Goddesses, and Lovers (1989) and Tempus Fugit: Time Flies (2000) are also represented.


  • Creation: 1981-2004

Restrictions on Access

Since this collection is unprocessed, requested records must be reviewed before they can be viewed by researchers; allow a minimum of one week for review.

Biographical / Historical Note

Dorothy H. Fickle came to the museum as an research fellow” in 1981, focusing primarily on the South and Southeast Asian art objects in the collection. She was appointed as the museum’s first Assistant Curator of Indian and Southeast Asian Art in 1983, and the Department of South and Southeast Asia was officially established as its own distinct department, an offshoot from what was previously known as the Oriental Art Department. During Fickle’s time as curator, the department saw a renovation of the Indian galleries in 1984 and featured several exhibitions. These included Arts of the Islamic Book (1983), Tantric Buddhist Art of Nepal (1984), the well-attended Indian Paintings from the Permanent Collection, 1885-1986, and Gods, Guardians, and Lovers (1993), which showcased temple sculptures from North India. She also organized the American Council for Southern Asian Art (ACSAA) symposium in 1985, which was held at the museum and acquainted other scholars from around the world with the Nelson-Atkins’ South and Southeast Asian collection. Fickle retired in December of 1993.

In November of 1994, Dr. Doris Srinivasan was appointed as Curator of South and Southeast Asian Art. Soon after, she began organizing the “Tibetan Sand Mandala Project” which brought two Tibetan monks to the museum to construct the Wheel of Compassion Sand Mandala in Kirkwood Hall. The event drew national media attention to the museum. Additionally, Dr. Srinivasan worked with the special events department and local South Asian communities to organize the three-month long “Celebrating India and Pakistan: 50 Years of Independence” in 1997, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of South Asia’s independence from Great Britain and the founding of India and Pakistan. It ended with a “Mela” festival held both inside and outside in the sculpture park, which attracted over 2,500 people to the museum’s grounds for food, shopping, cultural demonstrations—including a Hindu marriage ceremony, and dancing. In 2000, Srinivasan organized the symposium on pre-Kushan art, “On the Cusp of an Era: The Pre Kushan-World." It included multiple public events and the exhibition Snake Goddesses of Ancient India (2000-2001).

Dr. Srinivasan left the museum in 2001, and the department once again fell under the Asian Art Department, until Kimberly Masteller was hired as the Jeanne McCray Beals Curator of South and Southeast Asian Art in December of 2008.


19.75 Linear Feet (In 9 record center cartons, 1 clamshell box, and 1 lidded box.)

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquistion Note

Transfer, 2020.

Accruals Note

Additions to the collection are anticipated.

Related Materials Note

Office of Director Records, Paul Gardner Records (RG 01/01); Office of Director Records, Laurence Sickman (RG 01/02); Office of Director Records, Marc Wilson (RG 01/04); Department of Asian Art Records (RG 02); William Rockhill Nelson Trust Office Records (80/05 and 80/15); William Rockhill Nelson Trust Office Records, J.C. Nichols Files (80/10); Lindsay Hughes Files (RG 92); Laurence Sickman Papers (MSS 001); Lindsay Huhges Cooper Papers (MSS 013).

Finding Aid of the Department of South and Southeast Asian Art Records, RG 08
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