the inspiration of Horace M. Peterson III (1945-1992), founder
of the Black Archives of Mid-America, a group of local historians,
business leaders, and former baseball players came together
to create the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in the early 1990s.
It functioned out of a small, one room office in the Lincoln
Building, which is located in the Historic 18th & Vine Jazz
District of Kansas City, MO. It quickly incorporated, built
a board of directors and staffing, and created a licensing program
to support operations.
In 1994, it expanded to a 2,000 square-foot space in the Lincoln
Building, which include a number photographs and interactive
displays. Designed by ESA Design of Abilene, KS, this exhibit
became the flagship for redevelopment in the historic district.
Several hundred visitors, including school groups and dignitaries,
marveled at this once "untold American history."Highlights
of our stay in the Lincoln Building included the 75th Anniversary
Reunion of the Negro Leagues and a visit from Vice-President
The 18th & Vine historic district was the center for black
culture and life in Kansas City from the late 1800s-1960s. It
was the hub of activity for homeowners, business, jazz music,
and baseball enthusiast. Just outside of the district stands
the Paseo YMCA building, which was built as a black YMCA in
1914. It served as temporary home for baseball players, railroad
workers, and others making the transition to big city life in
the Midwest. It was here that the Negro National League was
founded in 1920. Although the district and the YMCA building
were becoming blighted by the 1980s, they were recognized on
the National Register of Historic Places.
During the late 1990s, plans were underway by city officials
to create a new home to showcase Kansas City's jazz heritage
and to revitalize the Historic District. City officials and
the mayor worked to raise over $20 million in bonds to build
a new facility to host the new American Jazz Museum and a new,
permanent and expanded, home for the Negro Leagues Baseball
Museum. This new 50,000 square-foot building opened in September
1997 and the Baseball Museum opened in November.
Our permanent home uses 10,000 square feet of the new space.
Also designed by ESA Design, the new exhibit features multi-media
computer stations, several film exhibits, hundreds of photographs,
Field of 12 bronze sculptures and a growing collection of baseball
artifacts. The museum raised over $2 million dollars to complete
design and construction of this space. It has also welcomed
several thousand visitors and dignitaries since, including Presidents
Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, General (Ret.) Colin Powell,
Jesse Jackson, Maya Angelou, Judith Jamison, Mike Dukakis, Walter
Cronkite, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Barry Bonds, Tony Larussa, Isaac
Hayes, Ossie Davis, Sinbad, and many, many others.
Overall Exhibit Design: ESA Design
Facade Design: Murphy & Orr
Exhibit fabrication: Display Studios
Bronze Sculptures: Professor Kwan Wu & Veritas Bronze (formerly
Oxbow Foundry) team--John Forsythe, Terra Brunton, Kelly Miller
and Rob Ojeda.