French Ministry of Culture honors Nelson-Atkins director Julian Zugazagoitia

08/27/2014 3:24 PM

08/30/2014 9:02 PM

You can’t rise to a higher post at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art than director, but you can be promoted if the French ministry receives you into L’ordre des Arts et des Lettres (The Order of Arts and Letters).

Nine years ago, Julian Zugazagoitia was named a chevalier. Over the summer, he was promoted to officier, in recognition of his expanding contribution to culture.

French Minister of Culture Andre Malreaux created L’ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 1957 to honor those who have “significantly contributed to the enrichment of the French cultural inheritance,” but officier, given to no more 60 people annually, is not limited to French nationals.

Zugazagoitia went to college in France, earning an art history degree from the Ecole du Louvre and a doctorate in philosophy from the Sorbonne.

During a July 21 ceremony in Paris, Zugazagoitia was presented with the award by Stephane Martin, president of musee du quai Branly.

The museum is one of the Nelson’s partners in organizing the “The Plains Indians: Artists of Earth and Sky” exhibition, which concluded July 20 at musee du quai Branly and opens Sept. 19 at the Nelson.

To reach art critic Alice Thorson, call 816-234-4763 or send email to

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