Update, 11:30 a.m.: "We are unchanged in our commitment in working with the city and our management contract to deliver programming for Kansas City Museum, both at Corinthian Hall and elsewhere," said Jerry Baber, chief financial officer of Union Station. "Our operation isn't changing, associated with the Kansas City Museum. Our relationship with the city isn't changing. This is strictly just an employment issue."
Denise Morrison, director of collections and curatorial services at Union Station, will step in as the museum's interim house director.
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Christopher Leitch, the director of Kansas City Museum at 3218 Gladstone Boulevard in the city’s historic northeast, is out.
Susan Borge, legislative aide to Councilwoman Jan Marcason, confirmed Tuesday that Leitch is no longer the director of the museum. The Kansas City Museum Advisory Board meets monthly, and a board member told KCUR that Leitch was fired about two hours before Monday's meeting.
According to meeting minutes, George Guastello, president and CEO at Union Station Kansas City, announced during the meeting that Leitch was "no longer the house manager of Corinthian Hall and that he would have no further comments at this time because it's a personnel issue."
This advisory board monitors the restoration and future use of Corinthian Hall and its members are appointed by the mayor. New members, including chairwoman Martha Lally, were sworn in June 2012. The board has no official comment about Leitch's termination, but Lally says a news release is expected Tuesday or Wednesday.
The 1910 mansion, Corinthian Hall, where the museum is housed, has been closed since January 2008. Free guided tours and hard hat tours have been offered to provide a look at the revitalization project underway. Other buildings also on the three-acre site, such as the visitor's center and StoryTarium (formerly, the Planetarium), have remained open to the public. In March, the museum hosted an exhibition in Corinthian Hall for the first time in five years.
The city of Kansas City owns Corinthian Hall, but it's operated by the museum, which is part of Union Station Kansas City. To date, the city has spent $10 million on renovations, such as a new roof, windows, and a climate-control system. But officials say millions more need to be raised to complete the restoration.
Before starting at the Kansas City Museum in January 2006, Leitch served as program manager at the Belger Arts Center. Previously, he worked for the Kansas City Art Institute for over a decade, most recently as assistant dean for Academic Affairs/Special Programs. A textile artist, Leitch graduated from the Kansas City Art Institute and holds a master’s degree in visual arts and critical theory from Goddard College in Vermont.
As museum director, Leitch was charged with overseeing the collection as well as historic preservation activities at Corinthian Hall. In 2006, he told The Star: “The biggest part of my job at the outset is reminding people of all the good feelings they have for this place. We continue to do new, interesting and important things."