"Muse of the Missouri"

Location: 8th & Main Streets, Kansas City, MO

Owner: Kansas City Parks and Recreation

Artist/Designer: Wheeler Williams

Dates: 1963

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Muse of the Missouri

This fountain is maintained by City of Fountains Foundation.


The Muse of the Missouri is located in the heart of downtown. Based on classical mythology, this creation of artist Wheeler Williams personifies a goddess bestowing her interest and guidance on the Missouri River. Williams had originally intended to use fish native to the river spilling from the net. However, he found catfish too ugly and carp unworkable. The nine fish netted by the muse are a hybrid using a carp body and bluefish head. There are 200 spouts of water making up the total fountain display. The metal fish net created a problem for the artist and a special machine had to be created to weave it. It was conserved extensively in 2005. The City of Fountains Foundation holds an endowment for this fountain which was dedicated to David Woods Kemper, who was killed in the last days of World War II while serving as a platoon commander in the European theater.