It’s basically a Kansas City requirement to snap at least one photo of yourself posing in front of the shuttlecocks on the lawn of The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, right?
The museum is a staple to what it means to be a Kansas Citian—but do you ever wonder how the museum shaped the Kansas City we live in today? Local poet Glenn North teamed up with the Nelson-Atkins to find the answer in a five-part podcast A Frame of Mind.
Produced by documentary producer Christine Murray, the Nelson’s Jocelyn Edens, and Kimberly Masteller, the podcast explores issues of race, representation, identity, and belonging.
Edens, the Nelson’s interpretation and digital engagement specialist, shared five things listeners should know about A Frame of Mind.
Museums are story machines.
Podcasting really stretches the possibilities for telling new kinds of stories at the Nelson-Atkins. In this season we’re looking through a lens of race to explore how the museum and Kansas City have grown up together. We have the space to tell stories from many (23 to be exact) perspectives, with poet Glenn North as our guide.
Museums are part of everyday life.
This podcast challenges us to also see art museums as places where relevant social conversations happen. We think a lot of the power of museums comes from the stories we choose to tell and how we tell them.
It’s possible to make a podcast over Zoom.
We started working on this project in the fall of 2020, so one of our biggest challenges was making a story about and with the community when everyone had to stay far apart. We interviewed dozens of people, met with advisors, brainstormed as a team, collaborated with local artists like The Black Creatures and Two Tone Press, and drafted and re-drafted episodes—almost entirely over Zoom.
Sometimes a metaphor can be too real.
There’s a sculpture at the Nelson-Atkins by Kansas City artist Robert Morris called Glass Labyrinth. It was the most beautiful metaphor for our project. It’s a real labyrinth, with one path in and out, made entirely of glass. It’s disorienting and can feel hard to move forward, sort of like what it can feel like to think about race in this country. Christine Murray thought it would be a great idea for North to record himself walking through the sculpture. The tape we got is gold, with more than one instance of Glenn walking straight into a glass wall.
We’re not sure what’s next.
This podcast is part of an overall effort and direction at the Nelson-Atkins toward creating a sense of belonging for all people. Looking ahead, there may be a season two of A Frame of Mind, and there will definitely be other projects and initiatives at the museum that experiment with making our collection welcoming and accessible.