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Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art Celebrates 25 Years of Bold, Progressive Art

May 23, 2019


Long known as one of Kansas City’s most celebrated creative institutions, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art celebrates 25 years in 2019. Get to know the history behind the museum—and discover special ways to commemorate the anniversary this year


Quick History and Facts

Founded in 1994 by R. Crosby Kemper Jr. and Mary "Bebe" Hunt, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art touts an ever-growing permanent collection of works and hosts 10-12 rotating exhibitions throughout the year. Featured artists include established and emerging voices from around the globe.

The museum was designed by Latvian-American architect Gunnar Birkerts, with construction beginning in October 2, 1992, and concluding exactly two years later. According to Birkerts, the dynamic building design “is expressive of the constant progression of modern art.”

With a free-flowing interior and several iconic sculptures greeting visitors on the surrounding lawn—including a larger-than-life spider and weeping giant—the building is a distinctive work of art in its own right. 

Since its founding, the museum’s permanent collection has more than tripled in size, with a diverse assortment of artwork ranging in age, from pre-WWI pieces to modern-day installations, exemplifying bold visions of contemporary style through the decades.

Also located on the premises is the heralded Café Sebastienne, a showcase of stylish lunch, dinner and weekend brunch cuisine—and home to live music performances each week.

Celebrate 25 Years

Visitors can celebrate Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art’s milestone anniversary during its latest exhibition, Lexicon: The Language of Gesture in 25 Years at Kemper Museum, which runs from May 16 to Aug. 25, 2019.

From well-known works to recently acquired pieces and all-new debuts, Lexicon commemorates the past, present and future of the institution and its impact on contemporary art in the Kansas City community for the past 25 years. Additionally, a 25th anniversary catalogue will be published in honor of the landmark achievement.

Other current exhibitions at the museum include: