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Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center grand opening June 10

The Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center (JCAHC) opens to the public Saturday, June 10, following a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 8:45 a.m.

The facility is located at 8788 Metcalf Ave. in Overland Park.

“The new Arts & Heritage Center brings our community many new opportunities for cultural enrichment including numerous recreation programs and classes, an indoor theater and a new location for our Johnson County museum which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year,” said Ed Eilert, chairman of the Board of County Commissioners. “This facility will be a place where families can share their memories while making many new memories to share in the years ahead.”

During the grand opening day, the center will be open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and all activities will be free excluding the evening theater production. A complimentary shuttle to JCAHC will be offered from the former Kmart parking lot located at 93rd and Metcalf. Shuttles will run from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

“This is an amazing facility that the public will find has been well worth the wait,” said county manager Hannes Zacharias. “It boasts the best of the old and new from the museum exhibits, the 1950s All-Electric House and the iconic aspects of the building to the many new activities, programs and space for the entire family.”

Activities offered during the grand opening celebration include guided tours on the hour of the museum’s signature exhibition “Becoming Johnson County” and access to the KidScape experience and traveling exhibition “Mother Road Revisited,” drop-in dance and art classes, entertainment, music and refreshments. 

“We’ve been anticipating this day for quite some time, and are thrilled to finally be able to share this beautiful facility with the public,” said Jill Geller, executive director of the Johnson County Park & Recreation District, which manages and operates the Arts & Heritage Center. “It opens up many new experiences for residents all in one location.”

About the center

The center will provide an expanded, new home for the Johnson County Museum and its 1950s All-Electric House. The house, built in 1953 by Kansas City Power and Light, was moved to the Arts & Heritage Center April 12, 2016, from the former museum location in Shawnee. It was moved once before on Oct. 18, 1994, after being donated to the museum by a Prairie Village couple. The display of the home inside the Arts & Heritage Center will allow it to be better preserved, since it will be protected from the weather, and it will continue to tell the story of a dream home in suburban Johnson County in the 1950s.

The Arts & Heritage Center will also provide space for multiple Park & Recreation District programs including cultural enrichment opportunities, arts and crafts offerings, and music and dance classes. Also included in the center is a 330-seat “black box” theater, providing The Theatre in the Park with a year-round venue to supplement its summer productions in Shawnee Mission Park. The first production in the theater is “Grease,” with 14 shows from June 9 to June 25. Tickets are on sale now at www.theatreinthepark.org.

The regular operating hours of the JCAHC are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Johnson County Museum is open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors and $3 for children. Museum memberships provide free general admission for the year and are available for purchase at the center or online. 

Community partnerships and public art

JCAHC will house the Arts Council of Johnson County, Johnson County Developmental Supports’ Emerging Artists Program and the Overland Park Historical Society. The facility also includes an event space for up to 330 people with an outdoor patio, both of which are available for rental, as are several other spaces.

Brad and Diana Goldberg designed the public art featured at the entrance plaza of the facility. The art installation is an outdoor room for public gathering titled “Assemblage.” Brad Goldberg will be available June 10 to talk about the artwork during the grand opening.

Project background

The Board of County Commissioners approved funding for the Arts & Heritage Center in March 2016; and, in June, the Public Building Commission issued a series of lease purchase revenue bonds valued at $21.46 million to fund the renovation of the facility. The expense to renovate the facility was covered under the existing county budget with no tax increase.

Total capital expenditures for the entire project was $22.23 million. This includes property acquisition, initial building repairs and current capital improvements. Of this total, approximately $15.5 million was for construction. Construction started in January 2016 and was completed in June 2017. Additional background on the project is available online.

Donors support museum exhibit

Funding for the museum exhibition program came from philanthropic donations and other sources. The Johnson County Museum Foundation secured $1.3 million in donations for the exhibitions; $500,000 was allocated to the museum exhibitions from the sale of the former museum building based on a real estate appraisal of the property’s market value.  

Donations to the museum include a $300,000 donation from the Regnier Family Foundation for the signature exhibit “Becoming Johnson County;” a $250,000 donation from MainStreet Credit Union for KidScape; and a $250,000 donation from the Parks & Recreation Foundation of Johnson County. Additional donations were secured from Bright Ideas Signs & More, DaVinci Roofscapes, Eclipse Roofing, the Kansas Humanities Council, Kansas City Power and Light, the William T. Kemper Foundation, Jane Wilson as well as more than 50 individuals and in-kind service donations to the Johnson County Museum Foundation.

Design and construction

Design services for the renovation were provided by a team led by SFS Architecture; McCownGordon Construction served as the construction manager.  

To learn more about JCAHC and the grand opening on Saturday, June 10, visit www.jocoahc.com or call 913-826-ARTS (2787).