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Morton and Estelle Sosland honored by Mayor Sly James

Photo by Chris Crum: Kansas City, Mo., Mayor Sly James (right) presents Morton Sosland with the proclamation declaring Sept. 19 ‘Morton and Estelle Sosland Day.’

Kansas City, Mo., Mayor Sly James proclaimed Friday, Sept. 19, as “Morton and Estelle Sosland Day” in honor of the couple’s legacy as champions of American Indian art.

{mprestriction ids="1"}The official day coincided with the public opening of “The Plains Indians: Artists of Earth and Sky,” a landmark exhibition of Plains Indian masterworks at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

Mayor James read the proclamation during a private, celebratory event at the Nelson-Atkins Sept. 16 and presented the pair with a framed copy of the proclamation. It noted that the Soslands “are widely respected champions of American Indian art and discerning collectors in the field.” 

Morton Sosland also has been “an invaluable supporter and advisor” for the exhibition, the proclamation said, and both Soslands played a central role in envisioning and creating the Native American galleries that opened at the Nelson-Atkins in November 2009.

“The Plains Indians” is an exhibition of 140 of the finest works of Plains art, on loan from public and private collections in Europe and North America. It will be on view at the Nelson-Atkins until Jan. 11, 2015. It follows a highly successful run at musée du quai Branly in Paris and next travels to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. It was curated by Gaylord Torrence, one of the nation’s leading scholars of Plains Indian art and the Fred and Virginia Merrill senior curator of American Indian Art at the Nelson-Atkins.

In 1977, the Soslands generously supported “Sacred Circles: 2000 Years of North American Indian Art,” a groundbreaking exhibition of more than 850 of the most important Native American objects ever assembled. It opened at the Nelson-Atkins following a highly-acclaimed world debut at London’s Hayward Gallery, where it was a project of the Arts Council of Great Britain in honor of the U.S. Bicentennial. 

The Soslands’ support and appreciation for American Indian art continued in the decades that followed. They gave one of the nation’s finest private collections of American Indian art to the Nelson-Atkins, and those Northwest coast masterworks were unveiled in the American Indian art galleries, which opened in 2009. 

Beyond American Indian art, the Soslands have been steadfast supporters of art in general, the Nelson-Atkins and the Kansas City community for many years. They were responsible for the 1994 gift of the museum’s iconic “Shuttlecocks,” a four-part commissioned work by artists Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen. The “Shuttlecocks” were commissioned to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Sosland family’s arrival in Kansas City.