Restoration & Renovation

Summer Wheat’s JewelHouse

James Turrell’s Skyspace

Ed Dwight’s Weathervane

Restorative Practices

Ed Dwight’s Weathervane

The Kansas City Museum is excited to announce that a new weathervane commissioned by the Kansas City Museum Foundation has been created by former astronaut candidate and artist Ed Dwight is now on temporary display in Corinthian Hall. Entitled The Loula Long Combs & Tom Bass Memorial Weathervane, the artwork will be on temporary display in Corinthian Hall while it awaits permanent installation on the cupola of the Carriage House when the entire building is restored and renovated. 

At the age of 90, Ed Dwight was one of six individuals on board Blue Origin’s seventh human flight, NS-25 on Sunday, May 19, 2024, and KCM is honored to align the display of the weathervane with Dwight’s most recent national recognition.

Born in 1933 and raised in Kansas City, Kansas, Ed Dwight joined the U.S. Air Force in 1953. After completing pilot training, he served as a military fighter pilot and obtained a degree in Aeronautical Engineering from Arizona State University.  In 1961, Dwight was chosen by President John F. Kennedy to enter training as an Experimental Test Pilot in preparation to become the first African American Astronaut.  Dwight completed the Experimental Test Pilot course and entered Aerospace Research Pilot training in preparation for Astronaut duties.  He successfully completed the course and continued to perform duties as a fully qualified Aerospace Research Pilot.  

Three years after the death of President Kennedy, Dwight left the military and began new endeavors.  A new National Geographic documentary entitled The Space Race, explores Ed’s story including the racial discrimination and injustice he experienced on his journey to becoming an astronaut.  

Ed Dwight’s childhood dream was to become an artist, but he was encouraged by his father to become an engineer. His first serious artistic endeavor began with a commission in 1974 to create a sculpture of Colorado’s first African America Lt. Governor, George Brown. Thereafter, he was commissioned by the Colorado Centennial Commission to create a series of bronzes entitled Black Frontier in the American West.  The series depicted the contribution of African Americans to the opening of the West. Few facts were known about Black pioneers, explorers, trappers, farmers, and soldiers. Through using his newly developed and unique artistic style, Dwight opened the minds of viewers to this unknown history of the American West.  

Ed Dwight has an extensive portfolio of artworks in private and public collections throughout the United States. For the Kansas City Museum, Dwight will design and fabricate a new weathervane for the top of the cupola on the roof of the Carriage House (the original weathervane was removed in the mid-1900s). 

The first building completed on the property in 1909 for the Long family’s horses, the Carriage House will be restored and renovated for exhibits, interactives, and media about Loula Long Combs, the American Royal, and often untold stories of Kansas City’s equestrian and agricultural history including the significant impact of rural communities and small towns in Missouri on Kansas City’s growth. The Carriage House will also include space for programs and events as well as administrative offices for the Kansas City Museum and its partners that focus on the humanities.

The Kansas City Museum began working with Ed Dwight in early 2022 on the weathervane concept, and the weathervane, entitled The Loula Long Combs & Tom Bass Memorial Weathervane, will be permanently installed on the cupola of the Carriage House when the entire building is restored and renovated.  The weathervane is made of copper, bronze, ceramic, wood, and is 60″ x 70.”

Currently, the Museum is working with International Architects Atelier on the architectural design for the Carriage House and aims to start the capital campaign for this project in 2024.  

Loula Long Combs (1881–1971), the youngest daughter of Robert Alexander Long and Ella Long, had a lifelong passion for horses. Mr. Long built Longview Farm partly to house and breed the champion horses Loula rode in shows in North America and Britain.  Considered the grand dame of show-horse owners, Loula rode her first horse at age four. In 1917, she married Robert Pryor Combs, a pastor’s son several years her junior and made Longview her permanent home.

Tom Bass (1859-1934) was a world-renowned saddle horse rider, trainer, and equestrian showman. Born into slavery in Boone County, Missouri, he was the first African American to ride in the American Royal Horse Show. Bass represented Missouri at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893 and invented the Bass bit, a horse bit that mitigated the pain of horses during training. Bass was well respected throughout the region and made a career working with horses as well as their owners including Loula Long Combs and her manager Dave Smith. Bass married Angie Jewell, and they had one son, Inman.  

Kansas City Museum Foundation Chair Allen Dillingham and Vice Chair Sonié Joi-Thompson Ruffin emphasize, “We are honored and proud to commission a work by Ed Dwight who has a long-standing commitment to the Greater Kansas City Metropolitan area. This commission brings together intersecting personal stories that exemplify the integrated relationships at the core of our history. Dwight’s work atop the Carriage House will contextualize the exhibits and provide another layer of opportunity for learning, representation, and connection.” 

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