By Joe Jarosz
June 25, 2014
KANSAS CITY, Missouri – It’s been a little over a month since the Kansas City Museum’s new director hit the ground running.
Last week, Anna Marie Tutera stopped by the Kansas City, Mo., business session to give the mayor and city council members an update on the museum and answered questions on what has transpired during her first month on the job.
Before Tutera began talking about her first month, Mark McHenry, director of the Kansas City Parks and Recreation Department, gave a brief overview on how the city reacquired the museum from Union Station. On May 1, 2014, the parks department assumed management responsibilities of the museum at Corinthian Hall. He said there are currently five employees, in addition to the new director, and one-third of the museum’s collection remains at Union Station while the other two-thirds is safely stowed in storage.
Tutera said she was honored and thrilled to be selected as the museum’s director. In her first month, she’s been listening and learning. She explained she’s been meeting with neighbors and museum stakeholders, anyone who understands what has transpired over the past decade at the museum.
“From the operating structure, the programs and the community outreach [I want] to get a sense of how we move forward,” Tutera said. “Especially with our restoration plans for Corinthian Hall.”
Throughout the past month, Tutera said she’s also been thinking about how this museum can be both a community museum and a city destination. More importantly, she wants to better preserve the culture of the museum, along with its artifacts and art.
“How we make an impact in the community in regards to community development and in particular civic unity,” Tutera said. “Museums have a tremendous capacity to be agents of positive social change. And this museum certainly has the possibility of that.”
First District At-Large representative Scott Wagner asked Tutera to expand on her planning for the museum moving forward. She said there have been several core planning documents that have been created for the museum over the past 15 years. The plans, she continued, include architectural master plans to more traditional plans. Tutera said she’s been meeting with those who were involved in the creation of the plans to get an idea on what is feasible and the vision of the museum.
“I’m reading all those documents and we’ll pull from them what I think are the best ways to move forward,” Tutera said. “In particular, I’m trying to wrap my head around the resources it will take to restore the property and make the necessary renovations but also understanding what it will take financially to sustain the museum after those renovations.”
A number of council members agreed with Tutera’s idea that the museum should become more of a citywide destination, and not just a destination for community members in the Northeast. Fourth District representative Jim Glover said the museum is important because it brings people into an area of the city that doesn’t get many visitors.
“When I take people to the Kansas City Museum, they marvel at the neighborhood and how wonderful it is,” Glover said. “It serves a function that brings people to a part of the city that is important and not always known.”