The Kansas City Museum is owned by the City of Kansas City, Missouri and operated and managed by the Kansas City Museum Foundation. While the collection is owned by both the City of Kansas City, Missouri and Union Station Kansas City, Inc., the collection is managed, cared for, and maintained by professional staff of the Kansas City Museum, who are employees of the Kansas City Museum Foundation.
Containing more than 100,000 objects, the historical artifacts and archives of the collection offer a rich sampling of Kansas City’s local and regional history while representing the daily lives of past generations, from the mundane to the extravagant. The Museum and its collection are irreplaceable civic assets.
The objects in the Museum’s collection are cultural heritage materials representing the tangible and intangible. They are used for educational and research purposes, and for the enjoyment and enrichment of visitors. The Museum is in the “forever business,” aiming to collect, manage, store, care for, curate, display, and preserve objects, materials, and archives into perpetuity.
Below is a video that features materials from the collection, showing how they are stored.
Encyclopedic in nature, the collection is organized into several core groups. Below is a list of the collection groups.
A significant component of the collection is the Archives, which contain a wide variety of documentary source materials. Of particular note are the photograph collections, featuring:
- the entire output of local photographer Warner Untersee of Warner Studio
- film collections including the earliest footage known to exist of Kansas City taken by George Curtiss
- television news footage of the 1960s-70s
- manuscript collections featuring the former city archives collection of George Fuller Green
- business and organizational records
- family papers of several local families
- many other ephemeral collections
The Archives is also home to a strong collection of local aviation materials.
Clothing and Textiles Collection
The Museum has one of the largest and best represented collections of clothing materials in the Midwest, with everything from couture gowns to day dresses, uniforms to overalls, shoes to hats and everything in between. Additionally, the collection includes examples of many kinds of quilts and coverlets.
Garment District Collection
The Kansas City Museum is now home to the Historic Garment District Museum’s collection of historic clothing and archives. Clothing examples made by local companies from the 1920s through the 1970s are included, with over 350 garments in the collection plus numerous objects such as equipment and marketing pieces. The collection highlights about a dozen companies who helped make up Kansas City’s garment district, one of the largest in the nation.
Loula Long Combs Collection
A legendary figure of Kansas City, Mrs. Combs was the first lady of the show horse world and daughter of Robert Alexander Long, owner of Corinthian Hall (now the Kansas City Museum). Loula’s collection encompasses artifacts from both her personal and professional lives, including carriages and tack, trophies and ribbons, clothing and accessories, and archival collections of photographs, film, and family memorabilia.
In 2015, the Kansas City Museum added one of the best medical collections in the Midwest to its holdings. The Donald Piper Memorial Medical Museum is a 15,000 plus strong collection of instruments, archives and ephemera related to the St. Joseph Hospital in particular, and Kansas City medical history overall. The collection of St. Joseph Hospital is part medical history and part corporate history, and includes everything from doctor’s bags to delicate baby respirators. It has unusual items as well as numerous examples of mundane items showing the progression of technological improvement.
The partnership with the Kansas City Fire Historical Society brings with it a collection of firefighting equipment, memorabilia, and records. This is a great addition to the unique collection of trophies, badges, and memorabilia of Fire Chief George Hale.
One of the fastest growing collection groups is in transportation and contains a large collection of rail memorabilia, automobiles, a homemade motorcycle from the turn of the century, the Loula Long Combs carriage collection, and a rare Butler Blackhawk airplane.
Daniel and Ida Dyer Collection of Native American Culture
An Indian Agent in 1870s Indian territory, Dyer and his wife Ida continued to amass artifacts from every native culture in North America up until the time of his death in 1912. This collection is known for its many outstanding examples of tribal life with strong emphasis on Southern Plains tribes.
The Kansas City Museum maintains a growing Collection, adding hundreds of objects every year, with many items coming from the local community and surrounding region. If you are interested in making a gift to the Collection, please contact Director of Collections and Curatorial Affairs Denise Morrison at email@example.com or 816.702.7703.
Appointments to research the artifacts and archives may be made between 9:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, based on staff availability, by contacting Denise Morrison at firstname.lastname@example.org or 816.702.7703. Requesting an appointment by voice mail or email does not guarantee confirmation; please allow up to two weeks for an appointment to be made and confirmed.
Rights and Reproduction
To learn more about requesting high-resolution reproductions of artifacts and archival materials, please contact Denise Morrison at email@example.com or 816.702.7703.