Art Deco, Streamline Moderne, and Kansas City’s Municipal Auditorium

My wife won a ‘flash contest’ on Facebook yesterday (meaning you had to pick up your winnings within a couple of hours of notification) for UMKC men’s basketball tickets that evening. I’m not a basketball fan, but the game was played at Kansas City’s Municipal Auditorium, which happens to be one of my favorite buildings in the city, so I was glad to go.

After watching a few minutes of the game, I decided to take advantage of the sparse crowd to wander the vacant halls and foyers in pursuit of the ghosts of the past.

The arena complex, known here generally as ‘Municipal,’ includes four separate venues: Municipal Auditorium, Music Hall, Exhibition Hall, and The Little Theater, and was built in 1934 to replace the city’s old convention center.

The architecture is a unique mix of Art Deco, an international arts and architectural movement that began in the early 1900’s and eventually came to dominate the 1920’s and 1930’s, along with heavy influence from the Streamline Moderne movement – typified by glass bricks and portal windows, and itself a style that emerged during the Depression years when Art Deco was increasingly being stripped of its sophisticated and exuberant ornamentation in favor of sleek, aerodynamic lines and curves that suggested a faith in the future.

My earliest memories of the auditorium go back to the early 1970’s. The complex was renovated in 2007 and 2013, but I’m happy to say the spirit of the original building I remember has largely been retained.

So, here are my images. Of course they’re not nearly as nice as those presented by the Kansas City Convention Center’s own website, but I offer mine here for fun.

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