KC Museum to transition to foundation management

Abby Hoover
Managing Editor

The Kansas City Museum at 3218 Gladstone Blvd. will transition to oversight by the Kansas City Museum Foundation (KCMF) by May 1.
The Museum, which is wrapping up a multi-year $20 million renovation, is operated by the City’s Parks and Recreation Department.

On Tuesday, March 9, the Kansas City, Mo., Board of Parks and Recreation Commissioners approved a cooperative agreement between the foundation and the board for KCMF to fully govern, manage and operate the Museum.

“It’s bittersweet,” Parks Director Terry Rynard said. “This is something we’ve been working toward for seven years now. The Kansas City Museum Foundation has grown their capacity really, really quickly. We think now is the time – and we always knew this day would come – that they would take over governance of the Kansas City Museum. Certainly, their foundation is in very good shape leadership wise, stability, financially, for this to happen.”

Since the 2016 adoption of Strategic and Business Plans for the Kansas City Museum, the KCMF, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, has been working toward becoming the governing body of the Museum.

To get to this point has been a journey that required a tremendous amount of effort, Rynard added, noting the leadership and dedication of the Museum’s team.

The Parks Board and the KCMF, both recognizing the significance of the Museum to Kansas City, have identified a mutually beneficial plan to create a public-private partnership to support the governance, management, operations, maintenance, renovations and sustainability of the Museum.

“This project could have never happened without the support of the Parks Department and the City’s renewed support and dedication to the Museum,” KCM Executive Director Anna Marie Tutera said of the ongoing renovations.

The foundation is committed to the care, management, preservation, stewardship, and display of the Museum’s Collection for, among other purposes, research, exhibitions, and educational programs to highlight the history and cultural heritage of Kansas City’s past, present and future.

Museum staff are currently curating exhibits for the Museum’s reopening later this year. In January, the first art installation arrived on site from artist Stephen Proski.

“I do want to recognize Ruthanne Harper, who without which would not have even gotten to the earlier iteration of this organization that I was part of starting 2005,” said Parks Commissioner Scott Wager of the KCMF. “I have to also give credit to Anna Marie, who is the glue that binds, to get us through to this point, and I think has given confidence to so many people about our direction and Terry, without you, we wouldn’t be here to help push them off on their journey.”

The Cooperative Agreement ensures that the KCMF will fully govern, manage and operate the Museum by May 1, 2021.

The Museum’s Mill Levy Fund Balance and Annual Mill Levy, both of which are designed and restricted only for use by and for the Museum per Missouri state statute, will be managed by the KCMF and used for the Museum.

“Thank you so much [to] Terry, who has really trusted our path and believed in this long and interesting, and often complex, journey and others who have been a part of this in the past,” Tutera said. “I think it is the best thing for the Museum at this point in time, and to follow in the great models that we have of our other partnering organizations like the National World War I museum that has the Liberty Memorial Association.”

Additionally, the Cooperative Agreement requires that by May 1, the KCMF owns the Collection materials, currently owned by the City, and manages the Collection co-owned by the KCMF and Union Station.

“To see the condition of the museum when we started versus the condition today is nothing short of astounding,” Commissioner David Mecklenburg said. “Everybody who’s been involved in it has to be congratulated. At the early times it didn’t look like we were going to have any luck, but the board has taken over and done a fantastic job. It’s just wonderful to see an institution that I grew up with when I was a young kid – that’s a lot of years ago – back in presentable shape and ready to go. I really appreciate all the work that’s been done.”

With an initial term of 10 years, the agreement can be renewed under similar terms and conditions of additional 20-year periods in the future.
“The current Kansas City Museum Foundation Board really got in there and helped to rebuild the nonprofit, and of course, Corinthian Hall,” Tutera said. “They, luckily, still have the energy to keep going, so I’m excited to continue working with them.”

The KCMF Board is currently chaired by Mary Davidson and includes Kevin Pistilli, Katrina Henke, Eric Wesson, Shomari Benton, Alex Bergman, Allen Dillingham, Rosana Privitera and Sonie Joi Thompson-Ruffin.

Day-to-day operation will continue to be handled by the museum’s staff.
“We have an incredible staff, six of us, small but mighty, and everybody’s really dedicated to the Museum,” Tutera said.

More information on the Museum’s renovation and the Foundation can be found at www.makingamuseumkc.org.

Stay tuned as the Northeast News covers the Museum’s reopening, including more in-depth interviews about the Foundation and the reimagined Kansas City Museum.

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