By JOE JAROSZ
May 7, 2014
KANSAS CITY, Missouri – She spent her childhood in the Historic Northeast.
In two weeks, she’s coming home.
On April 24, Anna Marie Tutera was named the new executive director of the Kansas City Museum at Corinthian Hall. She officially begins her new position on Monday, May 19. Tutera lived in a house behind the museum until she was four-years-old. When her family moved to 67th and Ward Parkway, she remembers returning to the area, spending a lot of time with friends and family near Indiana Avenue and Gladstone Boulevard.
“I feel so close to the Northeast because it was a huge part of my upbringing,” Tutera said. “I love being caught up in the culture and community. This feels like a homecoming for me.”
Coming back to the Northeast was first and foremost to Tutera when applying for the position. She said she could see herself at the Kansas City Museum. But before she made the decision, she spent a lot of time discussing the position and the opportunity with her mother. Seven years ago, Tutera’s father died and she knows taking this position would’ve meant a lot to him.
“We talked a lot about what it meant to the family,” Tutera said. “It was a priority for me to come back to the Northeast community. And people have been telling me they’re glad I’m back in the area.”
When considering the position, she also thought about what she would be able to accomplish on the city level to ensure preservation citywide. She also couldn’t pass up the opportunity to build on the successes of the Kansas City Museum and make it a city destination, again.
“I was attracted to the possibilities I could create with the community and staff,” Tutera said.
The excitement doesn’t subside when she mentions former museum director Christopher Leitch and the legacy that he left behind. Tutera knows she’s following a “dynamic and intelligent” leader who created many fantastic programs that she will want to continue. Because Leitch was so “dynamic, the community will expect the same from me.”
“I’ll continue with his same level of passion and collaboration,” Tutera said.
The first thing she’s going to do is listen and learn, especially in regards to structural plans and really understand the current vision of the museum and why that vision is in place. Tutera also wants to know how much community input has been added into the museum’s vision and plans, before making any assessments of what her vision for the museum will be. If a program isn’t successful, before getting rid of it, Tutera said she would seek input to understand what didn’t work.
“I want to continue with the programs the community wants and are successful,” Tutera said. “I want the museum to be welcoming and inclusive and I want it to reflect the diversity of the neighborhoods.”
When she determines which programs and exhibits work for the museum and community, Tutera said she sees the Kansas City Museum being embraced because of those programs and exhibits. Along with impacting the visitors of the museum, she also hopes to impact with area schools to give students a chance to “supplement other learning opportunities.”
Tutera has previously held positions at the Wornall/Majors House Museum in Kansas City, Mo., as well as the Santa Fe Children’s Museum, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Chicago Children’s Museum. With her experience in transitional management, as well as other qualifications, she believes that’s what made her a strong candidate for the executive director position. But her qualifications aren’t enough to improve the museum to the level that she’s setting for herself. Tutera wants to see involvement from the community, as well.
“I want to make sure people come to the community meetings and participate in the programs we have,” Tutera said. “It [changes] will take time because I need time to understand but the museum will create opportunities for forums. There’s new and exciting opportunities with lots of room for creativity with new endeavors.”