Karen Christiansen: Women Who Lead in the Arts

By Chris Howard-Williams

On October 24, the UMKC Women’s Center will be hosting an event titled Women Who Lead in the Arts, a panel discussion that will feature local, leading women in arts careers.  Leading up to this event, the Women’s Center blog will highlight each of the women who will be involved in this unique discussion. Today, we focus on Karen Christiansen.

Without a doubt, one of the shining jewels in Kansas City’s art scene is the prestigious Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.  Located less than a mile from UMKC’s campus, the Nelson-Atkins offers visitors a visual journey through many of the highlights of art history itself.  From Egyptian sculptures and the art of Imperial China to Impressionist paintings and modern art, there’s a little something for everyone, and the Chief Operating Officer of the museum happens to be none other than our next featured panelist, Karen Christiansen.

Since joining the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in February 1999, Christiansen has acted as the Museum’s Chief Operating Officer, where she directs the planning and daily financial and business operation of the Museum’s more than $33 million budget.  In addition, she coordinates museum-wide activities with direct oversight of areas such as visitor experience and amenities, human resource management, event planning, and financial management, among others. In 2013, Christiansen led a team of staff and consultants in developing and adopting the Nelson-Atkins Museum’s new Strategic Plan.  This plan emphasizes audience engagement, community involvement, collaborations and national/international partnerships.

Christiansen’s educational background highlights her unique ability to balance such a challenging role for the Nelson-Atkins.  With a Master’s degree in business administration, a Certificate of Museum Studies, and course work completed for a Master’s degree in art history, all from Arizona State University, Christiansen has been uniquely poised to handle her position as Chief Operating Officer.  In addition to her role at the museum, Christiansen is currently a Board Member of The National Toy & Miniature Museum and a Member of the ArtsKC Executive Director Roundtable. With such training and leadership capabilities, Christiansen truly has much to offer for art in the Kansas City area.  We are honored to have her as part of our panel and look forward to hearing what she has to share with us!

The Women Who Lead in the Arts panel discussion will take place on October 24 at 1:00-2:30 p.m. in the Miller Nichols Library, Room 325, 800 E. 51st St.  This event is free and open to the public.  For more information or to RSVP, contact the Women’s Center at (816) 235-1638 or visit womens-center@umkc.edu.