Skip to main content

Across Continents and Cultures: The Life and Art of Henry Ossawa Tanner Exhibition Records

 Record Group
Identifier: RG-24-30

Scope and Contents Note

These records primarily consist of correspondence, loan forms, photographs, financial records, press releases, and other related materials related to the exhibition.


  • Creation: 1993-1997

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

Across Continents and Cultures: The Life and Art of Henry Ossawa Tanner (June 25-August 20, 1995) was a traveling exhibition showcasing work of the prolific African American painter, Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859-1937). Organized by the American Art Department at the Nelson-Atkins, the exhibit fell under the direction of Margi Conrads, the Samuel Sosland Curator of American Art, and guest curator Dr. Dewey F. Mosby. Funds for the exhibition were raised locally and included a range of support from organizations such as Kansas City Power and Light Company (KCPL), the HR Bloch Foundation, the Hallmark Corporate Foundation, the Carrie J. Loose Trust, the Black Community Fund, and the Jewish Community Foundation. With attendance surpassing 56,000 visitors at the Nelson-Atkins, the exhibit also traveled to the Dallas Art Museum (Septemeber-December 31, 1995) and the Terra Museum of American Art in Chicago (January-May 1996) and received national coverage via media outlets such as The Christian Science Monitor and NPR’s “All Things Considered.” A 110-page catalog was also compiled by Dr. Mosby to accompany the exhibit and sold out at the museum during the show’s run.

Upon discovering that Tanner and his direct family had affiliations with various religious and cultural communities of Kansas City–specifically the Fifth District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church and the Pierian Club (a study club for African American Women)–the museum worked with these and other local foundations to plan for the celebratory display of Tanner’s seminal works while placing an emphasis on shaping diverse exhibit-related community programming. An advisory committee was formed to organize fundraising and to inspire broad community participation in the development of a speaker’s bureau, a pilot teen docent program, various family days and musical events, as well as an educational guide which gained acclaim through the American Association of Museums.

In November of the same year, the American Art department at the Nelson-Atkins acquired Tanner’s seminal work, The Young Sabot Maker (95-22), which is considered by art historians to be a formative example of late 19th century American genre painting.


6.5 Linear Feet (In 3 record center cartons and 1 oversize lidded 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

Transfer; Accession numbers associated with this collection are 1998-01, 2000-08, 2003-04.

Accruals Note

Accruals to this collection are not anticipated.

Related Materials Note

Office of the Director Records, Marc Wilson Records (01/04): specifically Series III, folders 27-28; Department of American Art Records (RG 07); Ephemera (RG 70): exhibit related material in Series V; Ellen Goheen Files (RG 95): specifically Series IV, Sub-Series B, folders 12-13.

Finding Aid of the Across Continents and Cultures: The Life and Art of Henry Ossawa Tanner Exhibition Records, RG 24/30
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