Muriel Kauffman Theatre; Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts
The performance home of the Lyric Opera of Kansas City and Kansas City Ballet, this 1800-seat theater was designed to mirror the audience experience of the world's finest opera houses and hosts numerous touring performances each year. Kansas City philanthropist Muriel McBrien Kauffman began the effort that would culminate in the 2011 dedication of this performing arts center in 1994. Today, the Kaufman Center serves as the home of the Kansas City Ballet and the Kansas City Symphony while also hosting special events throughout the year. The Kauffman Center is also home to Helzberg Hall, which is home to the Kansas City Symphony. In addition to this performing arts center, Muriel Kauffman is remembered for her many years of service to the community through many philanthropic endeavors, and her legacy continues today through the Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation which supports the arts in the Kansas City area.
The Muriel Kauffman Theatre located in the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts
Ewing and Muriel Kauffman at the Royals' opening night, 1973
The Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts
Backstory and Context
After years of careful planning and development, the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts opened in September of 2011. The initial idea for this center began with Muriel Kauffman in 1994. After Muriel Kaufman passed away the following year, her daughter, Julia Irene Kauffman, decided to see her late mother's project through completion.
The latter years of the 1990s were filled with initial planning and feasibility studies to ensure that the Performing Arts Center could be completed. In 2000, architect Moshe Safdie was selected for the design of the Center. Additionally, Richard Pilbrow was selected as a partner to design the theater within the Center while Yasu Toyota was selected as a partner to focus on acoustics within the Center. By 2002, Safdie presented his finalized plan for the Center to leaders within Kansas City.
In 2006, 13-acres of land in the downtown area was secured for the project. Leaders hoped the positioning of the Center would help renew the area and spark a cultural landscape around the Center in the years after its opening. Construction began on October 6, 2006, and the grand opening was in September of 2011. The Center continues to serve as a cultural beacon in Kansas City, with diverse audiences from all over the country attending performances by many different performing arts groups, including the Kansas City Ballet, the Kansas City Symphony, and Lyric Opera of Kansas City.
Muriel McBrien Kauffman, the visionary behind the Kauffman Center, was a civic leader and philanthropist in Kansas City.
Muriel Kaufman married pharmaceutical entrepreneur Ewing Kauffman in 1962. The couple worked together on numerous philanthropic ventures during their lives and are memorialized by several other Kansas City institutions that bear their name along with a statue outside the Kaufman Foundation headquarters. The couple worked together on numerous projects, including the work to bring Kansas City a Major League Franchise in 1969, and there is also a statue of the couple together in the outfield of Kaufman Stadium.
In addition to her work with her husband, Muriel Kaufman led numerous community projects on her own, including efforts to support preservation and accessibility to the arts. Her passion for the arts led to the construction of this facility and the creation of the Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation in 1987.
The Foundation has a mission to:
Support organizations and programs that enhance the quality and accessibility of the arts in the greater Kansas City community.3
The Muriel McBrien Kaufmann Foundation provides funding to many organizations dedicated to the arts in the Kansas City metro, including the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, the Kansas City Arts Institute, and the UMKC Conservatory of Music, among others. The Foundation also provided $80 million for the development of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, and continues to provide funding to the Center to continue to promote affordable access to the arts and art education. While Muriel Kaufman passed away in March of 1995, her daughter, Julia Irene Kauffman, oversaw the effort to build this structure and still serves as the Chairman and CEO of the Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation which works to preserve her mother's legacy while continuing to provide the community with access to both performing and visual arts.
- About: Muriel Kauffman Theatre, Kauffman Center. Accessed January 10th 2022. https://www.kauffmancenter.org/about/venues/muriel-kauffman-theatre/.
- About: Our History, Kauffman Center. Accessed January 10th 2022. https://www.kauffmancenter.org/about/history/.
- About Us, Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation. Accessed January 10th 2022. http://www.murielmcbrienkauffmanfoundation.org/about-us/.
- Hall of Fame: Muriel Kauffman, MLB. Accessed January 10th 2022. https://www.mlb.com/royals/hall-of-fame/members/muriel-kauffman.