One of the ways the Kansas City Museum fulfills its mission and vision is through the involvement of artists in the design and development of programs and experiences that examine Kansas City’s past, present, and future.

For example, International Architects Atelier—the primary, lead architecture firm for the Museum’s renovation project—worked with local artists on the architectural design, visitor experience, and exhibition planning for the Museum, alongside Museum staff, project architects, museum designers, and local historians, curators, and educators. In particular, the Museum aims to create content that invites inquiry and conversation, and exhibition spaces that foster respectful interaction and participatory learning.

HEART of the City (History Embraces Art) is an initiative that features new works of art by local artists (visual, performing, literary, media, and multidisciplinary) that explore Kansas City’s history, resonate with the Museum’s collection, and that examine contemporary, socio-cultural issues, and dynamics that impact Kansas Citians.

Artists may access the Museum’s collection and collaborate with Museum staff and the community to produce works that are in alignment with and enrich their artistic discipline and studio practice. In addition, the Museum encourages artists to take a deep dive into the heart and core of Kansas City’s past, present, and future to engender dialogue-driven narratives that bring to light opportunities for discourse, equity, agency, and ultimately civic unity.

HEART of the City projects include:

Renée Cinderhouse

Haven’t you ever wanted to talk to the future? The past? To see more clearly all the sides of the stories we are built upon, and how the ones we tell today will add up? Sometimes we rewrite history to match how we want to see ourselves, rather than capturing how things really were. Without a real and unedited understanding of history, we are bound to repeat it. Humanity is the consciousness of the universe; it is our responsibility to record and remember.

Past, present, future – we all exist on the same timeline, and it is only our perspective that is limited. Our perspective of history is measured through human lifetimes. Buildings, however, far outlast us. Architects expect their buildings to stand for generations; historic buildings become vessels for our layered stories through the centuries.

Corinthian Hall of the Kansas City Museum has housed many stories since its initial construction as a family home by R.A. Long in 1910. And now, over a century later, renovation of the Kansas City Museum is fully underway.

More than a message in a bottle, more than historical fiction, Witness is a timely response to this moment. Two years in the making, Witness is an ongoing artist-driven project initiated by Renée Cinderhouse prior to the renovation of the Kansas City Museum. Directly addressing the important role we all have in documenting, rewriting and preserving history and the process of destruction/creation cycles, Witness is an unusual collaboration between artist, historic museum, architects, and construction contractors.

A two-stage project encompassing art time-capsules and mixed-media sculptural installations, Witness captures present perspective, embraces our past, while engaging our future in socio-political commentary. There are four art capsules, one per floor of Corinthian Hall, representing four main themes: Personal Freedom, We The People, Environmental Legacy, Women’s Rights and Human Sexuality; themes influenced by the Museum’s visitor experience plan and exhibition design for each floor. Sealed within the Museum’s walls in 2018 and 2020, the capsules will be displayed to today’s audience only through selective documentation.

Part of the allure and mystery of a time-capsule is not knowing exactly what is enclosed; the art itself will be hidden from view until found by the intended audience of our future. The figurative mixed-media installations incorporate salvaged materials from Corinthian Hall’s demolition and will be exhibited interwoven with artifacts from the museum’s permanent collection at the Museum’s re-opening in 2021.

As an installation artist grounded in Art History, Cinderhouse has worked in locations from National Wildlife Refuges to historic theaters. Since Cinderhouse’s installations use each particular place as a conceptual leaping-off point, the work created in each location could not be made anywhere else; the sculptures and cultural ephemera curated for each capsule embody this sensibility. Like us, the time-capsules are vessels of memory, imperfect and swayed by perspective. Rarely does a female artist have a personal say in how the future will view her, or a chance to tell the future how she viewed her time and place. It is important that all sides of history be preserved for our future generations; we will be judged not only by our honest recollection of our past, but by our responsibility to shape our future. It is Cinderhouse’s intention to compel us all to mindfully participate: we live, we record, we stand witness.

Imprints & Traces
Directed by Cat Mahari in collaboration with Celestial Pictures.
Produced in 2017

Since 2014, the Kansas City Museum has been participating in conversations with local residents and stakeholders about its role and responsibility as a history museum to be a unifying force in bringing Kansas Citians together through collaborative efforts that promote community-driven programming and social justice, with the goal of affecting positive, systemic social change. Specific questions have surfaced about how the Museum will present exhibitions and programs that accurately, inclusively, respectfully, and productively address experiences of inequity, discrimination, and oppression that are a part of Kansas City’s past and present. In 2017, the Museum collaborated with Cat Mahari to lay a foundation for the journey ahead right before the Museum closed for restoration and renovation.

The Kansas City Museum is located on the east side of Kansas City in the Historic Northeast, which remains the most culturally diverse neighborhood in the City. The Kansas City Museum has been a public museum since 1940 and has attracted thousands of visitors from a variety of backgrounds and experiences with myriad ideas, beliefs, aspirations, traditions, intentions, perspectives, biases, and more. They have left their physical and emotional imprints on the interiors; they have left traces of themselves—hands touching railings, footsteps traversing stairs, conversations echoing from room to room, thoughts filling the spaces.

Imprints & Traces centers on the embodied narrative of two empathic researches, Krumpers Gool and Vendetta from AfroFuture, who grapple with encountering embedded traces of racism, anti-blackness, capitalism, classism, and gender disparity. Upon bearing witness to their findings, and as an agreed solution to their mission, they layer the Museum site with the forces of healing deconstruction and affirmation.

Cat Mahari creates work with personal and collective transformational possibilities. She is the founder and director of 31st&Brklyn, a platform for performance art and community engagement.

In 2017 Ms. Mahari received a Charlotte Street Foundation Generative Performance Artist Fellow, won Jit Vs House, House 1 v1 in Detroit, MI; and premiered the solo mixtape series Violent/Break: Vol II, a semi-autobiographic video projection mapping performance that explores ontology of violence, fractures and transcendence.

She is a 2x SEARCH grant awardee, 2008 Fulbright/Gilman Scholar, for her performance-as-research series on inter-connectivity between Merce Cunningham and breaking, presented at University of Missouri at Kansas City’s Conservatory of Music and Dance, as part of the SEARCH Symposium (2007, 2009). The series explored street dance, chance procedure, film and movement technologies. She received a KCArts Inspiration Award for the interdisciplinary work The Projects (2010), which drew on the heterogeneity of city life at a business mall. The solo mixtape series Violent/Break premiered in London at the Brink Festival (2011). Vol I has been shown in London, Carei, and Toronto. Vol II received 2016 Lighton International Artist Exchange funding for travel and study Chen tai chi chuan in China.

She is a recipient of St. Louis Regional Arts Commission Artist Support Grant (2013) and the Andy Warhol Rocket Grant (2016) for The Floor, a site-specific performance and trans media study into traditions of partnered dance, Great Black Migration of WWII, and folk lore. The BAM! series began with Expectation of Violence/Rites due Spring: B-BAM! (2015) an immersive multi-media performance work, focusing on Blackness, America, and violence in Kansas City. Ms. Mahari, is a member of Gool, a Krump family, and Gateway City Breakers, a hip hop crew. She has a BFA in dance from UMKC, and a MA in Performance, Practice, and Research from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.

Gilded Attrition
Ari Fish
was on view in 2017
Kansas City Museum at Corinthian Hall*
Historic Grounds
3218 Gladstone Blvd., KCMO 64123

Gilded Attrition was an outdoor, site-specific installation by Ari Fish as part of the Charlotte Street Foundation’s 20th anniversary event, Every Street Is Charlotte Street.

Gilded Attrition was located on the south-facing grounds of the Kansas City Museum and viewable from the street. In a nod to Native American “bent trees” or “pointer trees,” branches of the trees that flank the entrance of the Museum and point toward the Missouri River were gilded in copper-colored aluminum foil much like the slow growth of moss. This installation was a memorandum to the current residents of Kansas City and of the peoples that traversed the land centuries ago where the Museum now resides.

Madeline Gallucci
was on view in 2017
Kansas City Museum at the Historic Garment District (KCM@HGD)
800 Broadway Blvd., KCMO 64105

CUT/PASTE was a site-specific installation by Madeline Gallucci as part of the Charlotte Street Foundation’s 20th anniversary event, Every Street Is Charlotte Street.

Inspired by the Kansas City Museum’s collection of “crazy quilts” from the 1880’s, CUT/PASTE referenced the multitude of colors and textures combined together to create a new whole. Gallucci re-imagined the “crazy quilt” from object to image and reinterpreted it through her frenzied mark-making and painted patterns.

Heart of the City logo designed by SPYN studio.