Kansas City's First Public Darkroom Set To Open January
Against the clean, stark white interior at 529 Southwest Boulevard in Kansas City, a seafoam blue room seems to bloom behind an open door frame at the back of the main space.
That room will soon house Kansas City's first public darkroom.
Night Blooms Darkroom & Bookstore will officially open to the public on the evening of Jan. 1, during the first First Friday of 2016. The space is located just on the cusp of the Crossroads District, across the boulevard from Hammerpress.
Local artist Ruby Hanson is the woman behind the operation. In high school, Hanson was an avid film photographer — she would even occasionally cut class to spend extra time in the darkroom. But after graduating, she lost access to the equipment and space required.
"I haven't [taken film photos] in a long time, because I had no way to develop them the way that I wanted," she says.
A few years ago, she started looking around for a studio space to construct her own personal darkroom.
"I thought, if I'm going to build a darkroom, I should make it public," Hanson says. "There's a void that needs to be filled."
It's been a lengthy process, and, after funding, finding a venue was one of the biggest hurdles. It wasn't until last summer that she landed on a space.
The darkroom will be 8 feet by 13 feet, with four enlargers — used to project and expose the film — a chemical station, wash sink and drying area.
Developing film requires a lot of expensive equipment. Hanson has found some equipment at thrift stores, but has gotten a lot of the supplies from friends and local artists.
Hanson says many local artists have come out of the woodwork recently. After a soft opening on Dec. 4, she started a list of photographers interested in a monthly membership, which would give them 24/7 darkroom access, a private locker and studio space. She also plans to open for walk-ins, charging by the hour.
Andrea Tudhope is a freelance contributor for KCUR 89.3. You can reach her on Twitter @adtudhope.