By Kevin Collison
The Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art has closed its gallery in the Crossroads Arts District after a nine-year run, saying it wants to focus its resources on its main operation at 4420 Warwick.
The Kemper at the Crossroads opened in 2008 at the high-profile corner of 19th and Baltimore in space formerly occupied by The Dolphin Gallery. At the time, it’s arrival was viewed as a boost to the burgeoning Crossroads Arts District scene.
“I was really excited when it came down,” said Jeff Owens, chairman of the Crossroads Community Association. “It was another stamp of credibility for the Crossroads Arts District and they had some neat shows.”
Breeze Richardson, a museum spokeswoman, said the decision to close the Crossroads gallery was based on a strategic reassessment of Kemper operations by the museum board.
“The decision is not about what occurred at that location so much as the opportunity of what investing those resources here might allow for,” she said.
A press release on the Kemper website stated:
“A Board-led initiative, this strategic plan advances the Museum’s goal of centralizing operations around the Museum’s main location. As a result, Kemper Museum will be leaving the Crossroads.
“Kemper at the Crossroads has been honored to support Kansas City’s artist community through the many solo and group exhibitions held in this space, and the Museum remains dedicated to continuing this commitment by heightening visitor experience on a single, contiguous campus.”
Richardson said the building has been sold and a closing is expected Feb. 1.
People with knowledge of the transaction declined to identify the buyer, but did describe future plans for the property as “exciting” although not arts-related.
Owens and others said that while the Kemper gallery contributed greatly to the cultural life of the Crossroads, the satellite facility was isolated somewhat from its neighbors.
“I think their model could have been changed and had a more interactive dynamic with the Crossroads,” he said. “Other than that, it’s a shame they’re leaving.”