Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art

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Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art
Some of the Kemper's collection, 2005

The Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art opened in 1994 in Kansas City, Missouri. With a $5 million annual budget and more than 100,000 visitors each year, it is Missouri's largest contemporary museum.[1]


The core of the museum's permanent collection is the Bebe and R. Crosby Kemper Jr. Collection, a gift of the museum's founders.


The Kemper collection includes more than 700 works created after the 1913 Armory Show to works by present-day artists. Artists in the permanent collection include Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Robert Motherwell, Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Jim Dine, Tom Otterness, Helen Frankenthaler, David Hockney, Bruce Nauman, William Wegman, Nancy Graves, Dale Chihuly, Arthur Dove, Louise Bourgeois, Andrew Wyeth, Fairfield Porter, Georgia O'Keeffe, Frank Stella, Lesley Dill, Romare Bearden, Christian Boltanski, Robert Mapplethorpe, Garry Winogrand, Barbara Grad, Kojo Griffin, Jim Hodges, Wayne Thiebaud, Hung Liu, Marcus Jansen, and Stephen Scott Young. In 2000, the museum received 15 works by artists including the photographer Nan Goldin from the collection of Peter Norton.[2] Along with the collection, the museum also maintains a schedule of self-organized and traveling exhibitions. Each year, the it presents 10–12 special exhibitions in its galleries.

The museum opened in 1994 with an exhibition of rare early series of 28 watercolors by Georgia O'Keeffe, known as the "Canyon Suite" (1916-1918), that had never been shown publicly as a group. In 1999, the paintings' authenticity was challenged because the paper used for some of them could not have been obtained in the United States from 1916 to 1918, when O'Keeffe taught art at West Texas State Normal College in Canyon. The National Gallery of Art subsequently excluded the "Canyon Suite" from O'Keeffe's catalogue raisonne, and Gerald Peters Gallery refunded the $5 million that the Kemper Museum paid for them.[3][4]


The Kemper Museum’s 23,200-square-foot concrete, steel and glass building, constructed from 1992 to 1994 at a cost of $6.6 million, was designed by architect Gunnar Birkerts.[5] The structure has a large central atrium under an articulated skylight. Two wings extend from either side of the atrium. The main gallery displays works from the permanent collection and exhibits works in special exhibitions. Side galleries present works in rotation, and a large meeting room displays works on paper and crafts from the permanent collection. Works of art are always on view in the atrium and the corridors of each wing.


The Café Sebastienne restaurant combines the worlds of contemporary art and contemporary cuisine in the heart of the museum. The dining area features numerous paintings by renowned African-American artist Frederick J. Brown. The restaurant was named after his daughter, Sebastienne Nicole Brown.

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Coordinates: 39°2′47″N 94°35′7″W / 39.04639°N 94.58528°W / 39.04639; -94.58528