Henry Wollman Bloch, a co-founder of the tax preparation company H&R Block Inc. and a major supporter of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri, has died at age 96. In 1985, Bloch founded the museum’s business council, and he was chairman of its board of trustees from 2004 to 2007. He appeared on the “ARTnews Top 200 Collectors” list every year between 1990 and 2003, except 1991; sometimes he was listed alongside his wife, Marion.
The same year he left the post of chairman of the board, the museum opened its Bloch Building expansion, named for Henry and Marion. In 2010, the Blochs announced that they would donate their collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings—with works by Monet, van Gogh, Renoir, Cézanne, and Degas among them—to the Nelson-Atkins. The group of 29 pieces, which includes Manet’s The Croquet Party (1871), van Gogh’s Restaurant Rispal at Asnières (1887), and Gauguin’s Autumn in Brittany (The Willow Tree), 1889, was added to the museum’s permanent collection in 2015.
Since then, the Nelson-Atkins has undertaken an $11.7 million renovation funded by the Marion and Henry Bloch Family Foundation. Its Bloch Galleries, which house the gifted works, opened in 2017.
Julián Zugazagoitia, the director and CEO of the Nelson-Atkins, said in a statement, “Henry is irreplaceable. His leadership and dedication have been vital to the success of the Nelson-Atkins. But beyond the museum, Henry has been an outstanding citizen whose generosity and vision have had a transformative impact on Kansas City being the great city it is today. . . . We will miss him very much.”