What the hell is really going on between Union Station and the Kansas City Museum? 

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"Another concern is the need for maintenance, repair and renovation of the Kansas City Museum at Corinthian Hall, and the resources to adequately maintain this historic facility and ensure collections stewardship there," the AAM letter reads.

Glover says accreditation is an unimportant designation held up by museum supporters as a means to criticize Union Station. Few museums, Glover says, are accredited. The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art is accredited; the National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial and the Harry Truman Library and Museum are not.

Dewey Blanton, a spokesman for the AAM, says a little more than 1,000 of the 17,500 museums in the United States are accredited.

Glover worries that museum supporters' criticism of Union Station puts Corinthian Hall's progress at risk.

"What I don't like seeing happen is people throwing stones at Union Station," he tells The Pitch. "It actually hurts our efforts in the community to raise funds for Corinthian Hall. Some of the people who are throwing these hand grenades are really throwing live mortars at Corinthian Hall. It's a small community, and we need to have everyone pointing in the right direction to fundraise for a public-private partnership."


The difference in the upkeep of Corinthian Hall and Union Station tells the story of an ineffective contractual relationship on its way out.

Union Station is nearly spotless. Once a lonely building that was good for testing echoes, it now bustles with people visiting, eating a meal at one of its restaurants, or working for institutions that have leased office space there, including the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce.

Corinthian Hall today looks more like a museum of plywood. Fences cordon off public access to areas ostensibly under renovation. Hard hats are worn in some spaces.

Kansas City and Union Station are negotiating a change to the 2007 management contract, which otherwise would last until 2027 (with Union Station's option to extend it for another decade). One of the leading proposals would extract Corinthian Hall from Union Station's management and put it under the Kansas City Parks and Recreation Department, which manages the American Jazz Museum, the Black Archives and the World War I Museum.

City Manager Troy Schulte tells The Pitch that the parks department, under director Mark McHenry, has a proven ability to raise funds from the civic community — funds that Corinthian Hall badly needs. The 2007 contract with Union Station does not put it in charge of funding major renovations for Corinthian Hall — that's the city's bailiwick.

But Union Station would still look after the collection's 70,000 items. Schulte says the city doesn't have the capacity to maintain and curate the collection, so Union Station would still be allocated some undefined portion of mill-levy money to carry out that responsibility.

Guastello won't directly comment on the negotiations. "We have a strong working relationship with the city," he writes to The Pitch.

The Union Station board of directors, filled with well-known business leaders and elected officials such as Bank of Blue Valley CEO Bob Regnier and Leawood Mayor Peggy Dunn, has discussed the Kansas City Museum situation once since Leitch's firing, according to R. Crosby Kemper III, a board member and CEO of the Kansas City Public Library.

"My feeling expressed in the board meeting is Union Station as a station is a different kind of entity than a museum," Kemper says. "And though they do museumlike things and have good storage space, it doesn't make a lot of sense in the long run for Union Station, which is a presentation venue, to be a curator. The other side of that is the city has been a — how shall we say — an inconsistent curator itself."

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