Museum Restoration Project
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August 20, 2011 Renovation Update
HVAC Systems at Corinthian Hall When Corinthian Hall was completed in 1910, the ventilation and air conditioning technology was state-of-the-art for the time. This consisted of framed panes of glass vertically-mounted in channels on the walls, permitting them to slide up or down, thus allowing fresh air to move freely in and out of the house. They were called “windows” and were quickly adopted in most areas of the city. Kidding aside, Corinthian Hall has come a long way in its 101 years. Since early 2010, the first-ever comprehensive climate control system has been installed. Once the system is fully commissioned, conditioned air will be delivered to every room in Corinthian Hall and the Carriage House. This will increase 100-fold the capacity of the Museum to present collections and serve the public.
There are two key challenges to this project. Firstly, Corinthian Hall, as large as it is, was not designed to accommodate contemporary air handling systems. A good deal of time was spent crawling, measuring and doing a lot of math to design ductwork that is woven into the historic building’s skeleton and that can transport heated or cooled air from whisper-quiet air handlers to individual rooms. The image here shows the system of ducts nicknamed “the Octopus” occupying the attic. Similar knots of insulated galvanized steel can now be found in the Corinthian Hall basement, and in the attic and basement of the Carriage House.
The second challenge lies in beginning to operate a system such as this, in a building that has “proofed” to conditions without climate control. In such a situation, the machinery is started up and is “brought to temperature” very, very slowly – coming down or up even just a single degree per day over an appropriate amount of time, sometimes months. This prevents atmospheric shock in the building, and preserves the historic plaster, wood and stone features from radical climate changes in short periods of time.
Installation of the $3 million system is funded by the City of Kansas City, Missouri which owns the buildings and grounds at the Corinthian Hall estate. Subsequent phases of work will include further mechanical improvements and design of interior finishes for the historic buildings.
Renovation Update - Monday, November 15, 2010:
Renovations started up again in June for the fourth phase of the renovation project, the air handling system. The heating, ventilation and air conditioning system is a well needed part of the new Kansas City Museum. The Museum in the past had been operating through boiler and radiator systems, including an antique boiler, which caused uneven temperature levels throughout the Museum, posing issues in displaying artifacts. Artifacts need temperature controls to maintain their livelihood. The new system will provide our staff with the ability to manage the temperature controls, providing our artifacts with the best conservation controls and you with a comfortable visit to the Museum.
The city contracted Rand Construction Company, Inc. to facilitate the installation of the air handling system inside Corinthian Hall and the Carriage House. Construction crews tore down walls, including taking out the bathrooms in the basement and administrative offices on the second floor, and have built a 30’ x 26’ pit, 26 feet deep, just west of the Carriage House for a large cooling tower that will feed into three new chillers in the basement of the Carriage House. Duct work has started inside of the attic and basement and will provide the mansion and carriage house with sufficient air controls.
This phase of the project is expected to be completed by early 2011. The next phase will involve the interior design of the Museum.
Restoration Update - Thursday, December 18, 2008:
All non-original construction has been removed from Corinthian Hall and the Carriage House. More surprises have been uncovered behind the walls and rooms have been opened up. The window restoration is nearly completed, with the beautiful bay window, comprising of enameled medallions of famed Greek mythological characters, being placed back in its historic home. The window, restored by West Bottoms window company, Uroglass, and by the North Kansas City historic preservation company, Re-View, has once again become a beautiful asset to the interior structure of Corinthian Hall.
Workers from Uroglass, over the last month, removed the 10 panel stained glass window that overlooked the Grand Hall at Corinthian Hall and are currently restoring, cleaning and weather-proofing the window.
Restoration inside of the Carriage House has been a remarkable transformation from the home of the Natural History Hall. All of the non-original construction of the interior, including the natural environments of the Natural History Hall animals, has been completely removed. Carpeting has been removed on the west end of the Carriage House, revealing the original quarry tile.
Construction crews have demolished the vestibule that once welcomed visitors into the Natural History Halls.
Construction crews recently completed the replacement of second floor windows on the Carriage House with new, aluminum windows. Aluminum windows will be replacing the second and third floor windows of Corinthian Hall as well in the coming months.
Construction crews from Re-View have been actively replacing the basement and first floor windows of Corinthian Hall with historically-accurate wooden doors and windows. The once dark brown doors and windows have been replaced with a stone-color that matches the original color of the doors and the stone of the building.
The Museum’s historic home, Corinthian Hall, is undergoing an extensive restoration funded by the City of Kansas City, Missouri. The City is the owner of the estate and its various buildings. Though Corinthian Hall may be closed, the Kansas City Museum and its grounds are still open to the public.
The current phase of the project is replacing windows and doors in the main residence and the Carriage House. The scope of work makes it necessary to remove artifacts for protection, suspend public programs in the “big house” and develop programs in our Estate and off-site venues.
From January-April this year, the Collections Department, headed by Director Denise Morrison, was at work opening cases, un-mounting, cleaning, wrapping and boxing everything from silver spoons to a covered wagon. Some of these objects have been exhibited for more than 20 years. Artifacts will be stored until completion of the building restoration.
Though the mansion and Carriage House are closed, The Kansas City Museum has continued to present interpretative programs in the Visitor Center, the StoryTarium and on-site as weather permits. Public hours have not changed, and new signage assists visitors to find new programs.