Kansas City Museum
R. A. Long House
The Kansas City Museum at Corinthian Hall
|Location||3218 Gladstone Blvd., Kansas City, Missouri|
|Architect||Henry Ford Hoit|
|Architectural style||Beaux Arts|
|NRHP Reference #||
|Added to NRHP||November 14, 1980|
The Kansas City Museum at Corinthian Hall is a small museum in the historic Northeast Neighborhood in Kansas City, Missouri, United States. Also known as the R.A. Long House, the 3-acre (12,000 m2) plot consists of Corinthian Hall and its outbuildings, most of which have been renovated to contain various displays concerning local area history and natural sciences, a 50-seat planetarium, and a 1910-style soda fountain that serves up phosphates and ice cream.
Named for its six Corinthian columns, the estate was also known as the "Palace on Gladstone Boulevard". Built in 1908 by Robert A. Long, for an estimated $1 million, and designed by architect Henry Hoit of Hoit, Price and Barnes, this Beaux-Arts style 35,000-square-foot (3,300 m2) mansion served as the residence for the Long family until R.A. Long's death in 1934. The estate was donated to the Kansas City Museum Association in 1939 by the Longs' daughters and was opened to the public in 1940.
While it was a residence, the mansion contained a myriad of closets and rooms filled with ornate tapestries, paintings, and antique furniture. However, the building was ill-equipped to house a museum, and much renovation was required to consolidate the smaller rooms into larger ones with space enough for exhibits. Though these changes have lessened the value of the building as a "historic house", during its heyday in the 1950s and 1960s it was a pioneer of natural science, housing hundreds of stuffed animals in lifelike dioramas as well as offering various presentations and classes in taxidermy. Over the years the majority of this collection was handed over to larger establishments more suited to the upkeep of the animals.
In 1948, the museum association was deeded to the City of Kansas City. In 2005 this ownership would, in turn, be merged with Union Station Kansas City Inc., the same organization that maintains Kansas City's Union Station, where it remains today, while the city retained ownership of the buildings. The primary buildings of the museum—the residence and carriage house—closed for major renovations in January 2008, with a possible completion date of 2010. However, as of December 2012, completion is stated as three to five years away.
The Friends of Kansas City Museum
The Friends of Kansas City Museum is a 501(c)(3) organization of volunteers committed to promoting the Kansas City Museum at Corinthian Hall. According to the Friends website, their mission is “to be a dynamic and vital partner in building the Kansas City Museum at Corinthian Hall into a world class museum with inspiring exhibits that draws people here to learn about our city’s rich history.” The group provides financial support and volunteer manpower.
Shortly after the donation of Corinthian Hall, five women formed the Women’s Advisory Committee, the precursor to the Friends of the Kansas City Museum. The Women’s Advisory Committee spearheaded fundraising and the administration of the museum during its establishment, and were absorbed into the Kansas City Museum Association in 1941.
Today, the Friends of Kansas City Museum continues to be a vital part of the operations of the Kansas City Museum, and maintains its own website.
The Kansas City Museum is undergoing an extensive renovation and restoration. The replacement of all windows and doors in the residence and carriage house, as well as efforts to reduce lead and asbestos inside Corinthian Hall, requires access to interior and exterior walls.
Because of the disruption, all the museum’s collections have temporarily been removed to a safe storage facility, until the completion of restoration efforts. City regulations require that the interior of these buildings be closed during the restoration.
The Visitor Center and the StoryTarium (formerly the Planetarium) are open throughout the restoration, and Corinthian Hall and the Carriage House are open for limited group tours. In addition, an outdoor panel exhibit on the perimeter of the museum grounds provides visitors with accessible walking tours and educational information.
While visitor services on the site have been curtailed, appropriate public programming still goes on. This has led the Kansas City Museum to investigate and consider new program formats, multiple venues, and even outreach programming within the metro community. Ongoing activities aim to fulfill the museum’s mission, maintain a positive public image, and maintain high public awareness of the Kansas City Museum and Corinthian Hall.
This process began in 1996 when the first important architectural survey of Corinthian Hall was conducted by Claybaugh Preservation Architecture. The survey took account of the effects of age and change on the condition of the house and outbuildings, and explored the possibilities of renovation. In 2005-2006, the Kansas City government funded repairs to the roof and masonry of the residence, and other, selective repairs.
Museum offices have been relocated from the mansion itself to the gatehouse and lodge, and additional museum programs will be relocated to the Conservatory and Hammer Hall.
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2009-03-13.
- Bradley, Lenore K. (May 22, 1980). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory Nomination: Long, R.A. Residence". National Park Service. Retrieved 2009-05-05.
- Campbell, Matt (December 20, 2007). "A KC Museum Revamp". Kansas City Star. p. A1:2. "The Kansas City Museum will close on January 7, 2008, and not reopen until 2010 or later."
- Herndon, Rachael (December 7, 2009). "Museum part of Kansas City history". The University News (University of Missouri–Kansas City). Retrieved January 17, 2010.
- Museum website
- Corinthian Hall at the R. A. Long Historical Society website
- Kansas City Museum at the Union Station Kansas City website
- 360KC.com: Kansas City Museum, 360° visual Internet tours