By Abby Cambiano
June 7, 2017
KANSAS CITY, Missouri – The Kansas City Museum’s Corinthian Hall (3218 Gladstone Blvd.) is closed for renovations, but Kansas Citians can soon head down to the Historic Garment District to a new Kansas City Museum exhibition and programming space on the first floor of the historic 800 Broadway Building to capture a unique piece of Kansas City history.
More than 350 garments made by local companies from the 1920s to the 1970s, equipment and marketing pieces will be on display free to the public Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. starting on August 16.
The 3,300 square-foot exhibition will be across the street from the Historic Garment District Museum in the Poindexter Building at 801 Broadway Blvd. Kansas City Museum owns nearly 20,000 items, making it one of the largest of its kind in the region.
“The Historic Garment District is alive and growing with businesses, creatives and residents, and the expanded Historic Garment District Museum will offer a new element of cultural life to downtown Kansas City,” Anna Marie Tutera, Kansas City Museum executive director, said.
Tutera said the Kansas City Museum is honored to be entrusted with the Historic Garment District Museum, and will work to sustain the vision of the previous owners by “creating an innovative space and hub, which brings the historical and contemporary together to elevate and exhibit the innovative projects, products and initiatives of Kansas City’s growing fashion and design industries.”
The Historic Garment District was once home to one of the nation’s largest garment manufacturing districts, and will highlight about a dozen companies that made up Kansas City’s Garment District, according to a June 5 press release from the museum. The Kansas City Garment District Museum’s website notes that the district was the second largest employer of any industry in Kansas City in the aftermath of World War I, producing hats, coats, dresses, suits and children’s wear.
“The Kansas City Museum has one of the largest and best represented collections of clothing materials in the Midwest, including couture gowns, day dresses, uniforms, overalls, shoes, hats, buttons, and everything in between,” Denise Morrison, Kansas City Museum Director of Collections and Curatorial Services, said. “Additionally, the Museum collection includes examples of many kinds of quilts and coverlets. The enhanced programming opportunities are endless and will strengthen the Museum’s educational impact. We look forward to partnering with other museums and academic institutions to serve students and scholars.”
The Kansas City Museum staff is working to create a full schedule of activities for the fall to benefit all ages. The museum staff is working on plans that include supporting local artists and charities. Classes and workshops with fabric and textile artists, historians and curators will be available in addition to the new exhibitions on menswear throughout the decades and the Gay and Lesbian Archive of Mid-America (GLAMA).
“In addition, we will work with elementary and high schools on programming as well,” Tutera said. The museum will partner with Gladstone Elementary to expand their Local Investment Commission (LINC) after-school STEM fashion program.
A series of events and partnerships will lead up to the 2018 West 18th Street Fashion Show next June. The fashion show, Summer Embargo, will explore the history of immigrants who worked in the Historic Garment District. While some special programs, events and exhibits might have a fee associated with them, Tutera said they are still working out the details.
“My hope is that we are able to preserve the history of the Garment District and we are able to reactivate (this area),” Tutera said. The new exhibition will showcase the collection and allow designers and artists to collaborate with the museum, both in a historic and contemporary style.
The Kansas City Museum, located in the Historic Northeast, is managed by the KCMO Parks and Recreation Department. It will undergo a multi-year revitalization, expected to be completed by 2019. Stage one, Corinthian Hall, is expected to begin this summer. The renovations of the 1910 mansion and additional buildings will be managed by J.E. Dunn Construction Co.