The on-site director of the Kansas City Museum at Corinthian Hall was let go Monday by Union Station Kansas City Inc.
Christopher Leitch had been in charge of the museum since 2006.
Union Station CEO George Guastello informed the chairwoman of the Kansas City Museum Advisory Board of his decision by email two hours before a meeting of the panel on Monday and later confirmed it at the meeting.
“He said it was a personnel decision and too sensitive to talk about for legal reasons,” Chairwoman Martha Lally said Tuesday.
Neither Guastello nor Leitch could be reached for comment.
Jerry Baber, chief financial officer for Union Station, said the decision does not affect the station’s relationship with the city, which owns Corinthian Hall.
“It doesn’t affect our contract to deliver Kansas City Museum program management and collections management,” Baber said. “It doesn’t change what we’re doing under the Kansas City Museum brand at the station or anywhere else.”
Lally said she and other board members were surprised by the development.
“The loss of Christopher as the museum’s director is really a tragedy for the museum itself and for the numerous pending initiatives started by Christopher Leitch, and we are exceedingly sad to be losing his service,” Lally said.
Corinthian Hall is a mansion at 3218 Gladstone Blvd. built in 1910 by R.A. Long. The Kansas City Museum Association formed in 1939 and merged in 2000 with Union Station Assistance Corp. to form Union Station Kansas City Inc.
Leitch was hired by Guastello’s predecessor, Andi Udris. Leitch was house director during a stormy period in which the Museum Advisory Board, appointed by former Mayor Kay Barnes, and Union Station argued over ownership of the museum collection. A compromise was reached and relations have been congenial in recent years.
Leitch presided over expansion of the collection to include Kansas City’s gay history and Hispanic heritage. He organized museum events off-site when Corinthian Hall closed to the public in 2008 to begin an ongoing renovation project by the city.
Denise Morrison, director of collections and curatorial services at Union Station, will be the interim house director of the museum, Baber said.