Department of Marketing and Communications Records
Scope and Contents Note
These records consist primarily of materials related to publicity and advertising for special exhibitions, though general museum activities are also represented. Contents include correspondence, budgets, clippings, press releases, publicity reports, ephemera, and audio-visual recordings of exhibition-related programming, television and radio spots, and staff interviews between the late 1980s and the early 2000s.
Some of the larger groups of materials relate to the exhibitions Thomas Hart Benton: An American Original, The Century of Tung Ch’i - Ch’ang: 1555-1636, Impressionism: Selections from Five American Museums, Shakespeare: The Globe and the World, and the museum's 50th Anniversary celebration in 1983.
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 https://nelson-atkins.org/library/.
Biographical / Historical Note
Though the museum’s activities were being documented and promoted through local newspapers and radio since its opening in 1933, the museum’s Marketing and Communications department might trace its “official” beginnings back to 1958. The annual report for that year declared that gallery attendance and public relations had been greatly improved through the part time employment of a new publicity man, Donald D. Jones – a member of the staff at the Kansas City Star’s morning paper, the Kansas City Times. Jones acted as “Gallery Publicity” for the museum until 1963. After his departure, the role was filled by Donald L. Hoffman (1964-1965), Michael J. Kelley (1965-1968), and Phillip S. Brimble (1969-1975), with most museum publicity distributed primarily through local radio, television, and newspaper outlets.
In 1977, Beverly Rosenberg was hired as Public Information Officer. The annual report for that same year stated that her employment “fulfilled the Gallery’s need for an office to consistently disseminate information about its activities and special events” – especially with a recent noted decline in younger attendance.
In 1979, Beverly Haskins took over the role in the newly named “Department of Public Information,” followed by Susan Smith (1983-1984). Around the same time Smith was hired, the museum launched the “Public Information 50th Anniversary Visibility Program,” which coincided with the museum’s upcoming birthday celebration in hopes that it would act as an essential part in informing the community's perception of the Nelson-Atkins while broadening its reach. With the hired help of the national public relations firm Fleishman-Hillard the program “...sought to assure a climate of opinion and feeling favorable to the success of the 50th Anniversary fund…” while inspiring overall “enthusiasm and affection” for the museum. The plan moved publicity efforts beyond established local television, radio, and newspaper venues and launched a broader target towards both regional and national audiences via broadcast media, specialty periodicals, and suburban newspaper chains. Coverage of the museum included both the upcoming 50th Anniversary as well as stories related to the museum’s history, and officially widened the scope of the museum’s publicity outreach efforts from then on.
After a heavy rotation in leadership, Public Information moved under the umbrella of the Department of Development and Membership. In the early 2000s, it fell within the newly named Department of External Affairs under the name ”Marketing and Communications.” It became an independent department under Director Toni Woods in 2013, and in 2019 her position was renamed Vice President, Marketing and Communications. Woods had joined the museum in 2005 as assistant manager of the unit, becoming manager in 2008.
68.50 Linear Feet (In 56 record center cartons.)
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
Transfer; accession numbers associated with this collection are 1998-04; 2002-04; 2002-11; 2002-15; 2002-20; 2008-02; 2012-04.
Additions to the collection are anticipated.
- Finding Aid of the Department of Marketing and Communications Records, RG 44
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
Part of the The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art Archives Repository
4525 Oak St.
Kansas City MO 64111 United States