KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A celebrity appraiser with an expert eye is helping curators at Kansas City’s Arabia Steamboat Museum estimate a value for the collection while also setting the stage for a potential new home for the recovered artifacts.
“This is the King Tut’s tomb on the Missouri,” said Timothy Gordon, an appraiser known for his appearances on the TV show “Antiques Roadshow.” “There are things in here that are untarnished and incarnate and as new.”
Dave Hawley, the owner of the steamboat museum, arranged to have Gordon’s team calculate the worth of the items recovered from the 1856 shipwreck. Hawley and his family unearthed the remains from a cornfield in Wyandotte County in 1988.
“One of the most often-asked questions that people ask is: ‘What’s it all worth? I’ve seen it but was it all worth?’” Hawley said.
Hawley is exploring the possibility of moving the steamboat museum when the lease expires on his City Market property in 2026.
“In the steppingstones of getting from where we are to some other long-term forever place, this is one of those important steps along the way, that we just had to do,” Hawley said.
He said there’s been interest in his collection from places like St. Louis, Jefferson City and even Pittsburgh, where the Arabia was built in the early 1800’s.
But for now, anyway, the collection calls Kansas City home, and Gordon said that should be a real source of pride for the region.
“Kansas City has it. They don’t have it in New York,” Gordon said. “They don’t have it where I’m from in Montana. You should be really proud that Kansas City deserves it. It’s Kansas City’s treasure.”
Gordon will be appraising items at the museum for the rest of the week. Visitors to the museum are invited to observe and engage with Gordon, as time and space allows.