Nelson-Atkins exhibit showcases African American history through contemporary art

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Kansas City is keeping emancipation history alive with a special exhibit, honoring the Juneteenth holiday.

"It's just an incredible opportunity that the timing would allow us to have '30 Americans' be the featured exhibition that would, in essence, be the theme for our Juneteenth celebration," said Kreshaun McKinney, the audience engagement manager at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

Juneteenth is a combination of June and Nineteen. It celebrates the official ending of slavery and the freedom of the last slaves in the United States.

Curators of the '30 Americans' exhibit at the museum said this exhibit came at the perfect time.

"Thirty Americans is an incredibly important exhibition because it does celebrate the work of these American artists, at the same time that it allows art as a catalyst to talk about significant issues like race, beauty, history and identity," said Stephanie Fox Knappe with the museum.

The exhibit  showcases 30 African American contemporary artists over the last 40 years, with more than 90 displays.

McKinney said the exhibit takes the viewer on a journey through history, showcasing both the good times and the bad.

The creators said they hope the exhibit will be be a starting point for some much-needed discussions.

"Some of the artwork does bring up painful times. It does address part of American history that are very challenging, but that`s part of the story. We want to be able to give you a full story," McKinney said.

The exhibit will be on display until Aug. 25.

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