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Kemper Museum Announces Resignation Of Director

Rachael Blackburn Cozad, the Kemper Museum's director and CEO, has resigned. She plans to start two new arts-related businesses.
Courtesy of Madison Group Fine Art Appraisals
Rachael Blackburn Cozad, the Kemper Museum's director and CEO, has resigned. She plans to start two new arts-related businesses.

The Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art announced on Friday it has begun a search for a new director. According to museum officials, director and CEO Rachael Blackburn Cozad has resigned.Cozad served as the director of the museum since 2001. She's only the third director of the Kemper since it opened in October 1994.

UPDATE: Monday, May 21: Cozad announced that she's launching two Kansas City-based arts-related businesses, Madison Group Fine Arts Appraisals (MGFAA) and Rachael Cozad Fine Art (RCFA). According to a release sent by Cozad, she'll serve as Principal for both organizations:

Madison Group Fine Art Appraisals offers personal property appraisals and specializes in fine art, antiques, decorative arts and wine.  Appraisals are available for insurance, charitable donation, estate taxation, estate division, or client information. Rachael Cozad Fine Art will launch as a private art dealership showing contemporary local, regional and nationally recognized artists.  It will also handle secondary market sales with an emphasis on Modernism, Regionalism and photography.

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A press release from the Kemper Museum states that "with the director's resignation, the Museum's Board of Trustees has taken this as an opportunity to restructure institutional priorities and staffing."

To date, six full-time staffers, including Cozad, have left the museum since the end of April. (See KCUR's earlier story, Economy Rebounding, Kemper Museum Cuts Staff, for related coverage.)

According to the release:

Under Cozad’s tenure, the Museum expanded gallery space within the original Gunnar Birkerts-designed building and opened at Kemper at the Crossroads and Kemper East.  She started the Kemper Museum’s Corporate Council and Collectors Forum membership groups and led the Museum’s collaborative project with DST Systems, Inc. to place outdoor sculptures in downtown Kansas City.

In a statement, Crosby Kemper, founder of the museum and Chairman of the Board of Trustees, said, "The Board of Trustees and I thank Rachael for her service to the Museum and wish her well. We will begin the search for her replacement."

Future Plans for Cozad

Rachael Blackburn Cozad said of her 11 year tenure at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art: "It's the longest time that I've had any job."

Previously, Cozad served as Executive Director and Chief Curator of the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation in Los Angeles from 1994 - 2001.  She's also curated exhibitions at major museums around the country, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art.

According to Cozad, the decision to leave the Kemper "was just good timing for me. And I've had a number of other things that I've been wanting to do. I'm moving forward on a lot of those other fronts."

Cozad said she expects to stay in Kansas City because of the "wonderful things going on in the art world." She wouldn't elaborate on her plans - at this time - except to say that her new endeavors would be in the arts. 

"It has meant so much to me," said Cozad when asked about her time at the Kemper. "I learned a lot, did a lot, and met some fabulous people and worked with some fabulous people. And I'm really grateful for that."

"There's something really unique about that place (the Kemper). Looking ahead at its 20th anniversary, that's going to be a huge milestone. I was there for the 10th, and 20 years feels like it's not the gangly teenager anymore; it's going to be the establishment. It's probably going to be a big celebration. Hopefully, I can jump in on the periphery of that."

Kansas City is known for its style of jazz, influenced by the blues, as the home of Walt Disney’s first animation studio and the headquarters of Hallmark Cards. As one of KCUR’s arts reporters, I want people here to know a wide range of arts and culture stories from across the metropolitan area. I take listeners behind the scenes and introduce them to emerging artists and organizations, as well as keep up with established institutions. Send me an email at lauras@kcur.org or follow me on Twitter @lauraspencer.
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