Join Spotlight Now

The Center

Years of collective research, planning, and design have brought into focus the mission of the Kauffman Center.


“At the heart of the Kauffman Center is a living tradition of extraordinary and diverse performing arts experiences. 10 years of collective research, planning, and design have brought into focus the mission of the Kauffman Center. This is a building for today and for the next generations to come.”

– Julia Irene Kauffman

Kauffman Center Grand Opening, September 2011

Kauffman Center Timeline

  • 1994

    Muriel McBrien Kauffman, civic leader and philanthropist, discussed her vision for the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts with her family and the community. After her death, her daughter and chairman of the Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation, Julia Irene Kauffman, helped make this vision a reality.

  • 1997

    A feasibility study that results in a positive report gives Julia and the rest of the board the information they need to move forward with the visionary project.

  • 1999

    Formal planning for the center began when the board began interviewing architects. After narrowing the search down to four internationally renowned architects, Moshe Safdie, was selected, along with his partners for the project theater designer Richard Pilbrow and acoustician Yasu Toyota.

  • 2002

    Architect Moshe Safdie presents his plan to key Kansas City leaders.

  • 2006

    The board hires Jane Chu as president and chief executive officer.

  • September 2006

    The project is officially named the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.

  • October 2006

    A 13-acre property positioned between downtown and the Crossroads Arts District was chosen for its size, potential for becoming a “cultural campus” and the role it would play in revitalizing a downtown section of the city. After several phases of design and fund raising, the board agrees to break ground on October 6, 2006. Ground is broken in a ceremony attended by more than 500 people.

  • 2008

    The city of Kansas City approves plans for a $47 million Arts District Garage to be built south of the Kauffman Center.

  • 2010

    The city celebrates 1Year2Go with a countdown celebration at the Power & Light District featuring Chaka Khan.

  • September 2011

    The Kauffman Center celebrates its grand opening. More than 55,000 people attend the community open house.

  • September 2012

    By the end of the Kauffman Center’s first year, more than 475,000 people had attended an event at the Center. Through the Open Doors program, 29,000 school children from 27 districts were able to experience a performance at the Kauffman Center.