After years of discussion, the Kansas City Council Thursday approved a new long-term agreement for the Kansas City Museum. Union Station Kansas City has managed the museum since 2000. The agreement transfers it to the city’s parks and recreation department. But the bulk of the collection remains owned by Union Station.
"This is a very long awaited resolution to a somewhat extended and difficult partnership that we've had with Union Station," says Councilwoman Jan Marcason, who introduced the ordinance before the council. It passed with a unanimous vote.
Councilman Scott Wagner served on the Kansas City Museum Advisory Board since its inception about a decade ago. It was created to represent the city in museum operations, and the care of its collections. Wagner says the new agreement is a "good outcome" for the city and the historic Northeast, where Corinthian Hall, the longtime home of the museum, is located.
"It creates an opportunity for us to create a new chapter in the history of the Kansas City Museum by putting it in the hands of an organization that has created new chapters very often in this city and that’s our parks department," Wagner says.
The parks department has managed other city-owned cultural assets, such as the Kansas City Zoo, Starlight Theatre, and Liberty Memorial. These are now operated by private organizations working in cooperation with the department.
In a statement released by Union Station, George Guastello, president and CEO, says, "We believe this iconic building will be best managed by this organization that manages so many of Kansas City’s community assets. It makes sense that this City-owned building and the collection be managed by the City’s Parks Department."
According to the agreement, the city will now oversee care of the collection, and lease space from Union Station for storage, as well as lease some storage off-site. Most of the collection – more than 70,000 items - will remain owned by Union Station.