After Nearly A Decade In The Crossroads, Kemper Museum Closes Gallery

Dec 7, 2017

Kemper at the Crossroads, open since 2008, is now closed.
Credit courtesy: Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art

The Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art's third location, Kemper at the Crossroads, has closed. 

"An exhibition on display there was scheduled to close on Saturday, December 2," says Breeze Richardson, director of marketing and communications. "It felt like the most appropriate way to frame the closing, not installing a subsequent exhibition."

A sale of the property has been negotiated but not finalized, she adds.

The Kemper's outpost at 19th and Baltimore, in the heart of the Crossroads Arts District, opened in 2008. The museum took over the site of an established arts hub, John O'Brien's Dolphin gallery.

O'Brien, an early Crossroads pioneer, sold the building to the museum, and moved the Dolphin to the West Bottoms. (Bill Haw, Jr. took over that space in 2013, and it now operates as Haw Contemporary.)

Kemper at the Crossroads continued the Dolphin's tradition of featuring work by Kansas City artists. It also displayed pieces from its permanent collection, and hosted solo and group exhibitions, talks and events. Richardson says the museum's commitment to showing the work of local artists will continue.

The museum's board of directors recently mapped out a new strategic plan. According to Richardson, the board agreed "resources (at Kemper at the Crossroads) could be used in other ways. Expanding the experience at the main location was something they were really interested in exploring."

Closing the Crossroads location is not expected to impact staff, she says. 

The Kemper's original site, at 4420 Warwick, is home to its permanent collection, special exhibitions and programming. A second nearby location, Kemper East, houses the museum's administrative staff and also displays works from the collection.

Richardson says the museum is looking ahead to its 25th anniversary in 2019 and "becoming a cultural leader in Kansas City."

Collaborations with other cultural partners in the region, she says, will be part of this, as well as the potential of expanding the museum's current footprint. Much of that work will presumably be led by a new executive director. Barbara O'Brien left the museum in November after more than five years as executive director, and the museum has said it will conduct a national search.

Laura Spencer is an arts reporter at KCUR 89.3. You can reach her on Twitter @lauraspencer.