The Harbinger Online

Nelson Atkins Museum Reveals New Exhibit

They’ve been planning all year. The red paper lanterns have been hung just right. They made sure the volunteers had their traditional robes, that the enormous dragons were wrapped around the pillars that greeted the guests inside.Though Kansas City has never really been known for its extravagant Chinese New Year celebrations, this party put most dragon-themed festivities to shame.

The celebration in honor of the year of the dragon hosted traditional dance troupes from St. Louis, a performer of ancient Chinese drama  from San Francisco, demonstrations of classic Chinese music and calligraphy, and a Chinese Yo-Yo performance.Since 1996, the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art has been celebrating the Chinese New Year with the Kansas City community. But this January’s party didn’t only celebrate 2012 as the year of the dragon, but also the opening of the museum’s newly renovated Chinese galleries.

The bronze wine vessels, jade sculptures, ceremonial axes and swords, most of which date back to the Han dynasty, that now rest in the new permanent Chinese gallery have breathed new life into the Asian galleries.

“It was nice to see the Chinese galleries so alive with people,” Sarah Schmiedeler, Nelson-Atkins manager said. “People were lingering and enjoying the art. The museum is free every day, and we want people to come in and enjoy it.”

Much of the new collection, some of which has not been on display for decades, was brought in by former museum director Laurence Sickman over his trips to China in the 1930’s. One of the most breathtaking parts of the collection, though it has been on display since long before the addition, is a painted ceiling from a Peking temple built in 1444 which Sickman was vital in bringing to the museum. The Chinese gallery has been in the works since the museum’s opening in 1933.

“It’s because of [Sickman] that the museum has the unbelievably deep collection of Chinese art that it does,” Merry Quackenbush, the Nelson’s managing director said. “It’s quite unusual to think that of in the middle of the Midwest you’ve got a museum that has that kind of caliber of Chinese objects.”

Even if you missed the celebration on January 27th, the new Chinese galleries are permanent, and what’s better, free to the public. So if you have some spare time this weekend, think twice before you stare at your news feed for three hours or go see Journey 2. There are real marvels to see in the collection at the Nelson.

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Hannah Ratliff

Senior Hannah Ratliff is an A&E Page Editor for the Shawnee Mission East Harbinger. This is her second semester on staff. She enjoys visiting new places, watching action movies and being with her dogs. Read Full »

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