The Muse of the Missouri / David Woods Kemper Memorial Fountain

The Muse of Missouri

The David Woods Kemper Memorial Fountain, also known as The Muse of the Missouri Fountain is located in the heart of downtown Kansas City, Missouri, between 8th and 9th Streets and Main Street. Created by artist Wheeler Williams, this towering, bronze nude personifies a goddess bestowing her interest and guidance on the Missouri River based on classical mythology. Williams had originally intended to have native fish spilling from the net but 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 fishnet created a problem for the artist, and a special machine had to be created to weave it. The fountain was extensively conserved in 2005.

Mr. and Mrs. James Kemper, Sr., a member of the prominent Kansas City banking family, presented this memorial to the Citizens of Kansas City in memory of their son Lt. David Woods Kemper. Kemper was killed in action during the last days of WWII, leading his platoon against Italy’s German forces.


Van Brunt Boulevard and Budd Esplanade Park, Kansas City, MO

Designer / Artist

Edward Buehler Delk


Installed June 1, 1942


KCMO Parks & Recreation Department

The following words are inscribed on the granite tablet: 
“The Muse of the Missouri 
December 2, 1963 
In memory of 
David Woods Kemper 
Well beloved 
Who died defending his Country”

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