Bruce R Watkins Cultural Heritage Center is On A Mission to Commemorate Black Kansas City History

July 13, 2008

Bruce R Watkins Cultural Heritage CenterThe mission of Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Heritage Center is to commemorate and interpret the African-American diaspora particularly in the State of Missouri, the City of Kansas City, Mo., and its surrounding areas through fostering educational and cultural programs regarding the past, present and contemporary contributions of African Americans who served to shape the city and state’s history and culture.  A major component of contemporary and future interests involves the conscientious development of the state environmental policies.

Bruce R Watkins Bronze StatueEvents such as lectures, workshops, plays, performing arts, musical concerts, artistic showcases, movie series, etc. can be held at the Bruce R Watkins Cultural Heritage Center.

The center is open to visitors of all ages. The first level includes the Bruce R. Watkins permanent exhibit space, children’s workspace, resource library, auditorium, small gallery and glassed encased exhibit area for small pieces and artifacts. The second level consists of business offices, the main gallery and a temperature-controlled exhibit preparation area.

The Center is named in honor of Bruce R. Watkins, a political and social activist. Watkins was fueled by the need to recognize and preserve the varied contributions African-Americans made to the development of Kansas City. The center opened in December 1989 as the outgrowth of Watkins’ efforts. Construction of the Center was made possible through the work and contributions of the Bruce R. Watkins Fountain Inc., the Kansas City, Mo., Parks and Recreation Department, and the State of Missouri.

African American Exhibits Include:  (exhibits are subject to change.  Please call the center for the current schedule) 

In the auditorium:

“Jazz Greats”
The Spirit of Freedom Foundation collection, “Jazz Greats,” a series of pastel and charcoal portraits of African American jazz musicians, is on loan from the Spirit of Freedom Foundation and sponsored by the Friends of Bruce R. Watkins.

The Gertrude Keith Resource Library: 

“The Life and Times of York”    
Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

York, the Black Slave Who Travelled with Lewis and ClarkYork, a slave who accompanied explorers Lewis and Clark on their famous expedition, was the first black man to venture into the wilderness of the Louisiana Purchase. The exhibit chronicles his life and examines the conditions and environment of slavery in the early to mid-1800s. Opened in the spring of 2004, the exhibit will run indefinitely, and was established with the support of state, county and municipal governments.

The legacy of Bruce R. Watkins continues in the Cultural Heritage Center named after his honor.  Located in a busy area of Kansas City off of Paseo Blvd, the Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Heritage Center serves as an icon of Kansas City’s rich Black past and the wonderful contributions of its African American citizens.

Bruce R. Watkins
Cultural Heritage Center and Museum
3700 Blue Parkway

Kansas City, MO 64130
(816) 513-0700

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