Nelson-Atkins Names William Keyse Rudolph As Deputy Director, Curatorial Affairs

  • KANSAS CITY, Missouri
  • /
  • February 27, 2020

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William Rudolph
Emilie Dujour

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City has named Dr. William Keyse Rudolph as its new Deputy Director, Curatorial Affairs, a key leadership role that will help shape the museum’s dynamic exhibition program and curatorial team. Rudolph comes to Kansas City from the San Antonio Museum of Art (SAMA), where he is currently the co-interim director. In his seven years at SAMA, Rudolph served as Chief Curator and the Marie and Hugh Halff Curator of American and European Art and led the curatorial staff, collections, and exhibits department. Rudolph will begin work at the Nelson-Atkins in June 2020.

“I am excited to welcome William to the Nelson-Atkins leadership team. His exemplary scholarship, expertise, and management skills will be a tremendous asset moving forward,” said Julián Zugazagoitia, Menefee D. and Mary Louise Blackwell CEO & Director of the Nelson-Atkins. “I am very confident that William will use those skills to build on the great trajectory created by his predecessor, Catherine Futter, and I look forward to working with him to shape a vision for the Museum’s vibrant exhibition and program schedule for years to come.”

During his time in San Antonio, Rudolph increased the curatorial staff, regularized and developed an ambitious special exhibition program, with most projects organized and curated by the museum, and supported acquisitions across the collection areas. 

“For nearly a century, in almost the exact center of the United States, the Nelson-Atkins has shared masterpieces of global art with the world,” said Rudolph. “It is one of the great encyclopedic American museums, with exceptional holdings in Native American, African, Asian, European, American, modern and contemporary art, including one of the world’s pre-eminent photography collections. There is truly something for everyone—and wonderfully it is free to all. As a native Kansan with deep roots and numerous family members in Western Kansas and Eastern Missouri, I am honored to return to the Midwest to work with the talented teams at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Together, we will continue to create and expand extraordinary, meaningful experiences with art for the city’s communities.”

Rudolph has also served as a curator at the Dallas Museum of Art, Worcester Art Museum, and the Milwaukee Art Museum, in addition to holding prior research and support positions at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in European paintings and European decorative arts.

“The Board was highly impressed with the scholarship and vision that William will bring to this institution,” said Richard C. Green, Chair of the Nelson-Atkins Board of Trustees. “He has the deep experience to build a great curatorial staff that will continue to engage the public with art.”

Rudolph was educated at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the Courtauld Institute of Art, the University of Virginia, and earned his Ph.D. at Bryn Mawr College. He has also received decorative arts training through the Attingham Summer School for Country Houses and Collections and Royal Collections Studies. In addition, in 2017 Rudolph was a fellow of the Center for Curatorial Leadership, an intensive training program for art museum curators to develop leadership skills.

Major exhibitions he has organized or co-organized include Bluebonnets and Beyond: Julian Onderdonk, American Impressionist (2008–2009), In Search of Julien Hudson: Free Artist of Color in Pre-Civil War New Orleans (2011–2012), Thomas Sully: Painted Performance (2013–2014), Highest Heaven: Spanish and Portuguese Colonial Art from the Collection of Roberta and Richard Huber (2016–2017), and Spain: 500 Years of Spanish Painting from the Museums of Madrid (2018), as well as the forthcoming British Luxury: The British Revolution in Decorative Arts, 1715–1840 (2021).

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