Living History Museum Improvements
Kansas City, MO
Nestled quietly on 80 acres out of the 1,000 acres that make up Hodge Park north of the Missouri River in Kansas City. The museum has twenty-one structures with seventeen authentic 19th century buildings dating from 1807-1885. The historic log cabins and homes were relocated from surrounding counties to create a village setting.
Piper-Wind, as part of its commitment to the City of Kansas City’s ADA compliance upgrade project, took up the challenge to make accessibility changes to the exhibits and surrounding park without sacrificing the history or atmosphere of the area.
If any physical elements of the exhibits needed to be adapted, such as the widening of a doorway, replacements were commissioned to match the existing, and in many cases, elements, such as original bubble glass, were reused in the adaptation.
The walking routes throughout the village were regraded and resurfaced with a special gravel mix, packed to a density to allow wheelchair access, and where regrading was not possible, subtly signposted additional off-shoot accessible routes were added so that those with disabilities were comfortably accommodated.
By using the natural slopes in the site and to give access to exhibits, we were able to introduce accessible ramps off the walkways without greatly disturbing the historic buildings by the overt usage of handrails or over-long access ways. Where handrails had to be installed, these were effectively camouflaged by the addition of weathered cedar supports and railings.
Where access was not at all possible – in the second story of exhibits, or in sections of the park where grading proved too steep - elegant interpretive display signage was installed in these areas and throughout the park so that those with disabilities would be able to virtually visit all of the elements of this living museum. All the exterior signage was designed to be demountable, as the park is often used in the making of historical films.