Kansas City’s Culturally Diverse Communities and The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art: Oral Histories

Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
  • Tara Laver, Senior Archivist, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

Project Description

This project will result in 25 oral history interviews documenting the historical lived experiences and perceptions of the museum among multiple Kansas City communities. This work is especially relevant and timely as the museum begins to think about how it will celebrate its centennial in 2033, a time that will bring greater focus on and interest in the institution’s history. The recordings will capture and share community stories about an institution whose history is intertwined with the cultural, social, and political history of Kansas City, and will provide an opportunity for individuals to give voice to the full range of their stories, memories, and feelings—positive and negative, joyful, difficult, or ambivalent—and expand our, and future generations, understanding of the role and perception of the museum in diverse communities across the city.

The collected interviews will be transcribed and made available on-site at the museum in the Archives and through the “Stories for All” project portal, and we have plans to post them on a website to be created by the Kansas City Public Library, where oral histories from libraries and Archives across the area will be hosted.  Once in the museum archives and online, the interviews become accessible to the broader community, cultural and community organizations, onsite and online researchers, and the Nelson-Atkins for incorporation into research, storytelling projects, exhibitions, and other programs and venues.

Partner Details

  • Tara Laver

    Senior Archivist, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art


    Tara Laver is the Senior Archivist at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri. In that role, she has focused in part on sharing the museum’s history more widely, including as a co-curator of the recent exhibition Origins: Collecting to Create the Nelson-Atkins. Before joining the Nelson-Atkins, she worked at the Louisiana State University Libraries Special Collections for over 16 years, primarily as the Curator of Manuscripts for the Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections. She holds a BA with a double major in history and broadcast journalism and an MLIS, all from LSU, where she also completed graduate work in American history.