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Kansas City's Kemper Museum founders step down from Board, new Chairman appointed
Crosby and Bebe Kemper; artwork: Prince Patutszky Pleasures (1962) by Jules Olitski, Collection of the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Bebe and Crosby Kemper Collection, Gift of the R. C. Kemper Charitable Trust, 2009.21. Photo: Dan Wayne.

KANSAS CITY, MO.- Museum founders Crosby Kemper and Bebe Kemper announced yesterday they are stepping down from the Board of Trustees of the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art. Their daughter Mary Kemper Wolf has been appointed Chairman of the Board of Trustees effective immediately. Sandy Kemper and Mariner Kemper have joined the Board of Trustees.

Along with the three members of the Kemper family, Josh Sosland continues to serve as Vice Chairman, and Marilyn Hebenstreit as Treasurer. Trustees Jo Ann Sullivan and Clyde Wendel also serve on the Board. Community leaders John Bluford, Bill Gautreaux, Tom Holcom, Karen Holland and Lindsay Major comprise the Museum’s recently formed Board of Directors.

The Board has named Mr. Kemper as Chairman Emeritus, and Mrs. Kemper as Trustee Emerita. Since 1995, Mr. Kemper served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees and Mrs. Kemper as a member of the Board of Trustees.

“The Museum is a great love of mine, and this puts the institution in a position of strength as it approaches its 20th anniversary in 2014,” said Crosby Kemper. “Mary shares my passion for art, and I am confident she will thoughtfully and successfully lead the Museum.”

Bebe Kemper said, “I am grateful to have had a role in building this institution from its start and know Mary will continue to strengthen its legacy in Kansas City and beyond. As a filmmaker herself, Mary will champion the role of the artist at the Kemper Museum for many years to come.”

Under Mr. and Mrs. Kemper’s stewardship, the Kemper Museum has flourished. Its permanent collection more than tripled with works of art by artists from around the world. At the core of the Museum’s permanent collection stands the Bebe and Crosby Kemper Collection, and the permanent collection numbers more than one thousand works of art by artists, such as Helen Frankenthaler, Willem de Kooning, Morris Louis, Hung Liu, Georgia O’Keeffe, Fairfield Porter, Wayne Thiebaud, Andy Warhol, and Andrew Wyeth, among others. More than two hundred special exhibitions have been organized, and the Museum now operates three locations—the original Gunnar Birkerts-designed primary location, Kemper at the Crossroads, and Kemper East. Millions have visited since the Museum opened in 1994.

“My parents’ boundless enthusiasm and support for the arts has inspired many, including me, and I look forward to continuing their legacy through the Kemper Museum for many years to come.” said Mary Kemper Wolf. “Kansas City has a thriving arts culture, and next year the Kemper Museum reaches a significant milestone—its 20th anniversary. I recognize the influential role the Kemper Museum plays in creating connections between the artists of our time with the entire community.”

Josh Sosland said, “We on the Board of Trustees and the entire Kansas City community owe Crosby and Bebe an enormous debt of gratitude for their extraordinary generosity, their many years of committed service, and the greatness of their vision. The Museum is a community treasure in its own right but has been a powerful catalyst for the arts in Kansas City over the last 20 years.”

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