Kansas City Museum at Corinthian Hall is Kansas City’s oldest and largest museum of local and regional history. The Museum opened in 1940, located in the former home of Kansas City lumber entrepreneur and philanthropist Robert A. Long.
The home was completed in 1910, and the Long family lived here until the death of Mr. Long in 1934. Mrs. Long had passed away in 1928, and the two Long daughters were married and living elsewhere. After a two-day auction, the house sat empty until late 1939 when the Kansas City Museum Association formed and opened the Museum the following May.
In 1948 the Museum Association deeded the property to the City of Kansas City, Missouri. The Museum’s operations are funded by a tax collected solely for this purpose, established in 1967. The residence and estate were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.
The Museum was long staffed and operated by the dedicated volunteers of the Women’s Division and the Musettes. These tireless and committed para-professionals worked in collection development, exhibit preparation, fundraising and education, both on-site and in the community.
In 1999 the Museum Association merged with the Union Station Assistance Corporation to form Union Station Kansas City, Inc. At that time various professional staff and administrative functions, and collection storage, were relocated to the great train station. Museum staff are still headquartered on the site.
Kansas City Museum Historical Timeline
1934 Millionaire R. A. Long dies.
1934-39 After Mr. Long’s death, the family’s financial problems, dating from the Great Depression, worsen. The Long daughters Sally Ellis and Loula Combs remove family headquarters to Longview Farm, Lee's Summit, MO, leaving the estate vacant for five years.
During this same period, several separate groups are seeking suitable space to house and selectively exhibit two private regional collections of ethnographic and historic artifacts. They incorporate to form the Kansas City Museum Association.
The daughters seek relief from the tax burden of a vacant estate by giving Corinthian Hall to the new Kansas City Museum Association in 1939.
1940-49 The Kansas City Museum Association owns and operates the facility for eight years. Overhead expenses and mounting debt continue to be problematic for the private citizens who fund and staff operations.
In 1948, the Association enters into an agreement with the City of Kansas City, and sells for $1 the buildings and grounds.
As new owners of Corinthian Hall, the City of Kansas City begins a gradual and changing process of including the estate in the maintenance and financial structure of city operations.
1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s The Kansas City Museum Association continues to operate the privately owned institution in the newly-public building. Museum leaders succeed in creating a regional education destination of growing popularity. Generations of schoolchildren are introduced to The Igloo, The Bear and The Planetarium.
In 1967, voters approve ongoing collection of a property tax to support operations of the Museum.
Between 1970 and 1986, the Museum Association obtains substantial grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and donations from many private citizens and companies to support expanded museum programming.
In 1980, the Association succeeds in placing the main house of the estate, recognized as "The R. A. Long House, or Corinthian Hall", on the National Register of Historic Places.
1990s The City’s agreement with the Kansas City Museum Association passes the 50 year mark. The City begins to encourage the Kansas City Museum Association to leave Corinthian Hall so that it may be converted to a new use such as the Mayor’s Residence or a Conference Center.
2001 Union Station Kansas City, Inc. d.b.a The Kansas City Museums of Science and History is incorporated as a merger of two entities– the Union Station Assistance Corporation and the Kansas City Museum Association. The Kansas City Museum Association, a not-for-profit organization established in 1939, is now Union Station Kansas City, Inc. (USKC) known in the region as Union Station, after its 1914 historic train station home.
2005 The City of Kansas City embarks upon a site-wide historic restoration of the Corinthian Hall estate. The process is ongoing.
2009-10 To date, the roof and masonry of Corinthian Hall have been repaired, the roof of the Gate House Lodge has been replaced, and the windows and doors of Cortinthian Hall and the Carriage House have been reconstructed or replaced. In January 2010, mechanical systems and HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) work commences on the site. Strategic and interpretative planning continues to allow redesign and installation of exhibits