Curtis T. Atkisson is an active patron of the arts and is heavily involved with the Museum. His influence and kindness is foundational to the Museum’s workings. He is a friend of the Museum in every sense of the word, being heavily invested in its progress, aware of its needs, and supportive of its goals.
Curtis was born in Michigan and eventually served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Northern California. For college, he attended Stanford University. While there, he met Mary Ann Maughan. Together they had six children: Rosanne, Jeanne Bilson, Curtis, David, Valerie, and Michael. Seasoned travelers, the Atkissons lived in sixteen cities between Argentina and the United States, including cities in California, Texas, New Hampshire, Washington, Indiana, Mississippi, Michigan, and Utah. Curtis and Mary Ann also served as proselyting missionaries for the Church in Puerto Rico. On April 19, 2010, Mary Ann passed away peacefully in a coma following a stroke. In her memory and because she was a lover of history, Curtis established the “Best Book Award” for the Mormon History Association, and organization to which they were both active members. Later in 2010, Curtis married Ann Benson. The two have continued to be active donors and patrons of the Museum.
Curtis has been involved with various museums for many years. Throughout his life, he has been a generous donor to four different museums: the Muskegon Museum of Art, the Springville Museum of Art, the Church History Museum, and the Museum of Art here at BYU. In addition to the giving of his resources, he also graciously gave of his time and was a docent to the Church History Museum for many years. Curtis is particularly supportive of and committed to contemporary art, so much so he kindly funded a lecture series at the Museum of Art focused on contemporary art and artists. The Curtis Atkisson Lecture Series has enabled the museum to host speakers and contemporary artists continuously over five years.
Curtis Atkisson has also been involved with growing the Museum’s collection. He helped the Museum obtain a modern painting by Utah artist James Taylor Harwood entitled Home Life, illustrating his awareness of the contributions Utah artists make in the art world. He more often provided the funds for the Museum to purchase contemporary pieces. Of note, the Museum acquired fifteen photographs from Jess Brouws, a self-taught artist who created a visual survey of America’s cultural landscapes. Many of his images of which the Museum owns have recognizable cultural landmarks, such a gas stations or power lines. Continuing his interest in contemporary art, Curtis also contributed to an acquisition of a porcelain McDonald’s sign made by Chinese artist Li Lihong.