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Education Department Records

 Record Group
Identifier: RG-32

Scope and Contents Note

This collection is comprised of materials reflecting the various educational functions of the Education Department, including programs for children, youth, families, and adults; school and teacher services; tours; and interpretation. The collection includes docent handbooks, tour guides and tour-related files, audio/visual recordings of lectures given at the Museum, departmental histories, reports, clippings, photographs, and materials related to exhibition programming, museum events, and classes.


  • Creation: 1950-2014
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1981-2011

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.

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 for children, 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 museum’s earliest junior program planning began under the department’s first director, Francis O’Donnell who was at the museum between 1934 and 1939. James Seidelman, who became director of the department in 1952, developed the Junior Gallery and Creative Arts Center which opened at the museum in January of 1960. Larry Eikleberry headed the department 1968-1978, followed by Ann Brubaker, beginning in 1979.

In May 1999, Brubaker was named Director of Educational Affairs, reflecting the expansion of the department, now a division, to include the Spencer Art Reference Library, the Museum Archives, and the Slide Library (later Visual Resources Library). In late 2002, construction began on the Ford Learning Center devoting 14,378 square feet of space to educational programming – a major change for the division which previously had 5,195 square feet for programs and classes. Sponsored by the Ford Motor Company, the new center was located at the eastern connecting point of the museum and the new Bloch building addition, and included 7 new classrooms, an orientation/training center, gallery space, and the Education Resource Center, which loans materials and provides professional development for area educators.

When Brubaker retired from the museum in 2006, tours had expanded beyond those for school children to include adult tours and special exhibit tours; The Incentive Program she initiated in 2004 drew in more public school visitors and broadened the diversity of young visitors, as did community partnerships with local schools. By this time, the Division included adult programs, youth and family programs, school and teacher services, and library and archives services, and it continued to grow and expand. Brian Hogarth became director of the division in 2007, the same year the Museum Guides program was instituted. The following year Adam Johnson joined the staff as Head of Adult Programs, marking a renewed focus on programming for adults with a new position dedicated to that area. Though it had been a function of the division for some years, Interpretation became a standalone unit within the Division in 2009; that same year Hogarth left the museum. Curator of American Art Margi Conrads was named Interim Director, a post she held until Judy Koke was hired in 2011. With Koke’s departure in 2014, Adam Johnson served as acting director until Fall 2015 when Anne Manning began her tenure as Director of Education and Interpretive Programs (now Deputy Director of Learning and Engagement) in 2015.


23 Linear Feet (In 18 record center cartons and 1 clamshell box.)

Language of Materials



This is an unprocessed collection. A general overview of each box's contents is provided in its associated scope and contents note.

Immediate Source of Acquistion Note


Accruals Note

Additions to the collection are anticipated.

Related Materials Note

Director of Educational Affairs (RG 33); Ephemera Collection (RG 70); Westport Garden Club Records (RG 71/01); Jane Rosenthal Papers (MSS 006); Mary Louise (Clifton) Womer Papers (MSS 008); Spencer Art Reference Library Records (RG 30); Visual Resources Library Records (RG 31).

Finding Aid of the Education Department Records, RG 32
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