The stately environs of the Kansas City Museum at Corinthian Hall may be closed for public programming, but through the auspices of the UMKC Department of Urban Planning and Design and the team of community partners at the museum, roughly twenty UMKC Urban Planning students toured the museum grounds Friday, August 23 in preparation for their semester project: developing a process and a strategy for the neighborhood galleries on the museum’s third floor.
According to Jacob Wagner, Associate Professor in UMKC’s Department of Urban Planning and Design, these students are just the first wave of urban design and architectural students he’ll be bringing to the museum this semester.
“We’re kicking off a semester where every class in the department of architecture will have some connection to the Historic Northeast and to the museum,” Wagner said, as his students toured the museum’s Grand Hall. The goal is to see how the neighborhoods can connect to the museum and how the museum can connect to the neighborhoods.”
Wagner’s classes include two in urban planning, a neighborhood and community development class, and an urban environmental planning class, all teaming with architectural students to coordinate with museum staff on projects related to the development of community and neighborhood content at the Kansas City Museum.
Dr. Gene Chavez asked students when was the last time a city museum had exhibits related to the students’ specific ethnic background.
The question garnered a few hands from mostly white, suburban students.
“What we’re trying to do is develop content that is representative of the different communities in Kansas City,” Chavez told the students, speaking of the Santa Fe Trail’s role in developing trade with Mexico in the mid 1800s.
“Those are stories that are often forgotten,” Chavez noted. “Communities transcend geographic boundaries and take on many roles. It’s our job as a museum to tell the story of those underrepresented communities and how they relate to the history of the greater community at large.”
Museum Director Anna Marie Tutera expressed excitement about working with the students through the course of the semester.
“This is really a wonderful opportunity for the museum to partner with UMKC students on the Kansas City Museum and the Parks Department roles the museum plays in creative placemaking in neighborhoods and public spaces across the city,” Tutera said. “This collaboration will help us develop stronger relationships with neighborhoods and how they see their role in the cultural landscape of the city at large.”
While the project lasts through the fall semester, students will continue to work with museum staff on content development from the various neighborhoods throughout the city.