The UMKC Conservatory's Barr Institute for American Composition Studies was formed through the generosity of Howard and Patricia Barr for the purpose of:
- Supporting the acquisition, care, preservation, use and promotion of existing materials related to the period of American composition between 1890 and thereafter, excluding the art of jazz and its derivatives.
- Promoting individual research initiatives related to the historical and theoretical underpinnings of post-1890 American Classical Music.
- Supporting new composition efforts including commissions, theses and dissertations by composition students.
- Supporting collaborative and interactive efforts to study new music.