COLLECTION FINDING AID
- Collection Photos
- Kansas City: Paris of the Plains
- Art & Art History
- Cultural Studies
SCOPE AND CONTENT OF COLLECTION
The Missakian Collection was donated by Nadine Missakian, widow of Baron Siroon Missakian. Inclusive dates are circa 1915-1972, with the bulk dates being the 1920s and 1930s. There is some manuscript material and miscellaneous ephemera but the richness of the collection lies within hundreds of magnificent photographs created by Missakian. Some of the photographs are black and white and some are in color, hand tinted by the photographer himself. Included are many famous personalities such as movie stars and other notables from around the world. One of the interesting components of the collection is the historical documentation of Laugh-O-Gram Films, a production company established by Walt Disney, a friend of Missakian’s whose office was located across the hall in the same building. Disney’s personal secretary was Nadine, who later married Baron Missakian.
Baron ("Mister") Siroon Missakian was born in 1892 in Istanbul, Turkey, of Armenian parents. As a youth he apprenticed to the official photographer for the Ottoman Empire. A patron from Boston, impressed when he heard the boy’s voice in an Armenian church, brought him to this country in 1913. Missakian enlisted in the Army during World War I and spent most of his service time singing for Liberty Bond Campaigns. After the war, he managed a Chicago portrait studio, later moving to Kansas City in 1925. Known as a “creative photographer,” Missakian captured the images of Kansas City's resident and visiting performers during the Jazz Age, a time when Kansas City was one of the most dynamic arts centers in America. His camera not only documented the worlds of classical music and dance, but also the new popular entertainments, vaudeville and the movies. By 1926 he was well established and garnered awards for his studio portraits. Among those photographed were Missakian’s friend and neighbor Walt Disney, Milton Berle and Sir Carl Busch, founder of the Kansas City Symphony Orchestra. Baron Missakian died July 7, 1964 after a long illness.