Michael Bushnell

The Kansas City Museum announced this week that its latest piece of commissioned artwork is now on temporary display in Corinthian Hall. 

The piece, created by artist Ed Dwight, is entitled The Loula Long Combs & Tom Bass Memorial Weathervane and will ultimately take residence on the top of the cupola of the Carriage House, following that building’s renovation and restoration. 

The new weathervane includes a tribute to Loula Long Combs and Tom Bass, who were both leading figures in the American Royal Horse Show. 

Combs was the youngest daughter of Robert A. and Ella Long and had a lifelong passion for horses. She is often considered the grand dame of the American Royal horse and stock show. 

Tom Bass was a world-renowned saddle horse rider, trainer, and equestrian showman. Born into slavery in Boone County, Missouri, he was the first African American to ride in the American Royal Horse Show. Bass also invented the revolutionary “Bass Bit” still used today to prevent pain to horses during riding.

Photo by Michael Bushnell

If the name Ed Dwight rings a bell that’s because after growing up in Kansas City, Kansas, Dwight joined the Air Force in 1953. After completing pilot training, Dwight earned his degree in Aeronautical Engineering from Arizona State University. 

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy tapped Dwight to become the first Black astronaut. Dwight, along with other astronauts in training such as Gordon Cooper, Scott Carpenter, John Glenn and Virgil “Gus” Grissom, completed Experimental Test Pilot training and Aerospace Research Pilot training in preparation for duties as an astronaut. 

Following Kennedy’s assassination in November of 1963, a disillusioned Dwight left the service to pursue a new life path. 

Earlier this month, Dwight finally achieved his dream of going into space. At the age of 90, he was one of six on board Blue Origin’s seventh human flight that lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida on May 19th, 2024. 

“I am proud Ed Dwight’s life and legacy will be honored in Kansas City,” said Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas. “I am looking forward to seeing his artwork being included as the newest addition to the Kansas City Museum property.” 

Museum visitors will spot the weathervane exhibit on the landing of the grand staircase between the first and second floors. It is an ongoing part of the museum’s mission of telling The Whole Story. For more information on museum exhibits and programs, visit the museum’s website at: www.kansascitymuseum.org