Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art announces competition for major expansion

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri, is slated for a major expansion. Museum officials announced this week that Malcolm Reading Consultants (MRC) has been tapped to manage a forthcoming architecture competition for the job.

The announcement follows a study by Cooper Robertson which evaluated the museum’s needs and growth trajectory. “Within a generation, projected visitors are likely to reach a million a year so the museum needs to prepare,” Malcolm Reading Consultants said in a statement.

“We have spent several years weighing both the needs of the museum and the community and have given careful consideration to a number of studies performed by Cooper Robertson, an urban design firm,” added Evelyn Craft Belger, chair of the museum’s board of trustees. “Having explored several scenarios, the Board wholeheartedly embraces the idea of an architectural competition.”

The Kansas City institution opened its doors in 1933, and its last major addition was by Steven Holl Architects in 2007. It added five glass pavilions to the campus bringing a contemporary edge to the neoclassical designs already sited on the campus. The institution’s sculpture park, also completed in 2007, is famous for its pop art by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, The World’s Largest Shuttlecock (1994).

Malcolm Reading Consultants is based in London and has handled more than 200 competitions worldwide including the Dallas Museum of Art (won by Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos in 2023) and a redesign for London’s Sainsbury Wing.

“This competition will be a fascinating proposition for architects who love art and culture,” said Julián Zugazagoitia, Nelson-Atkins CEO. “At the second stage of the competition, we will be looking for designs that inspire community engagement and attract new audiences through exemplary design that will best position the Nelson-Atkins to serve guests for generations to come.”

The competition will begin early this fall. Interested design teams can contact the organizers at to be notified of the launch.

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