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The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art – Joan and Alan Marsh

Joan and Alan Marsh will be serving as the honorary co-chairmen of The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art’s gala, Create the Night…Masterpiece!, which will take place on February 20th at the Museum. The Karbank Family also will be the honorary co-chairmen. This black-tie affair will highlight the opening of the Museum’s exhibit, Reflecting Class in the Age of Rembrandt and Vermeer. In addition, the evening will feature a delicious sit-down dinner by Lon Lane’s Inspired Occasions and entertainment by Quixotic, which will perform a specially choreographed piece to celebrate these luminous 17th-century Dutch paintings. Carol Logan, Peggy Lyons and Mary Reintjes will be serving as the co-chairmen. 

Both Joan and Alan have fond early memories of the Museum.  Alan recalls chasing ahead of his mother in the granite corridors and going on the bus to the Museum in second or third grade when he attended the J.C. Nichols School. “I remember my inspiring first visit as a young bride,” said Joan. 

The Marshes also have been transformational influences on The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Alan served on the Society of Fellows committee prior to becoming its chairman from 1995 to 96. He also has been a trustee for a total of 15 years and has been on the executive, investment and development committees. Eight years ago, the development committee decided it needed to expand its base of support. As a result, Alan and Karen Christiansen, the chief operating officer at the Museum; founded the Nelson Advocates, an organization which selects 40 to 60 people a year to become more knowledgable about the inner-workings of the Museum. “We have five sessions a month apart,” said Alan. “Participants attend programs which pertain to subjects such as art conservation or how an exhibit is put together. We have tracked individuals who have gone through this class, and most of them have gotten further involved.”

In the summer of 2012, Sarah Rowland, who was chairman of the board of trustees, decided that the Museum needed to develop an annual signature fundraiser. An ad hoc committee, comprised of Ann Baum, Mary Lou Brous, Karen Craft, Shirley Helzberg, Daisy MacDonald, Jeanne Sosland, and Liza Townsend, was assembled; Joan served as the chairman. “As the committee started its research, as night follows day, it became apparent there was a pressing need for a dedicated support group to plan and execute fundraising events to benefit the Museum,” said Joan. “We thought there might be 100 people who would like to help. The response was resounding…more than 500 joined as charter members. The name–the Committee of 100–reminds us every day of the abundance of enthusiasm from the start. We moved like lightning, and the busy years since 2012 have resulted in four celebratory luncheons in the fall as well as three signature galas…the newest coming this February 20th.”

Most of all, the Marshes have received a great deal of joy and satisfaction from being a part of the Museum. “It’s being on a first name basis with some of our favorite masterpieces, learning from the stewards of our collection…curators…conservators…staff,” said Joan. “It’s friendships growing at Fellows lectures and dinners over many years of membership, nurtured by a mutual love of fine art. It’s hours spent planning past galas for the Museum. It’s never forgetting the thrill of walking under Chinese New Year banners for the Great Ball of China…the jubilant evening when the new Bloch Building opened…bidding bon voyage to Marc Wilson royal Egyptian style.” Added Alan: “Director and CEO Julián Zugazagoitia has made it his mission to make the Museum more user friendly. He’s reached out to a lot of organizations in a collaborative way. The arts can open up a whole new world for everyone.”

The Marshes feel honored to be an important part of Create the Night…Masterpiece! and are looking forward to a magnificent evening. Said Joan: “Think black tie elegance, our golden framed masterpieces, shimmering fabrics, and glowing candlelight…think of memorable dining, seated among the black marble columns of Kirkwood Hall…where better to be on a February night than lifting a toast to The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art?” 

Also featured in the December 12, 2015 issue 



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