Kansas City Art Institute

The Kansas City Art Institute (KCAI) is a private, independent, four-year college of fine arts and design founded in 1885 in Kansas City, Missouri. The college is an accredited member of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD) and the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools. It has approximately 75 faculty members and 700 students. KCAI offers the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, in which students undertake a comprehensive liberal arts program with a studio major in animation, art history, ceramics, creative writing, digital filmmaking, fiber arts, graphic design, illustration, interactive art, painting, photography, printmaking, product design, or sculpture. KCAI offers a minor in Art and Design Entrepreneurship, a collaborative program with University of Missouri – Kansas City Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

Kansas City Art Institute
TypePrivate, independent, four-year college
Established1885 (1885)
AffiliationNational Association of Schools of Art and Design
Academic affiliation
Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design
Academic staff
Students678 (Fall 2017)[1]
Kansas City


The school started in 1885 when art enthusiasts formed the "Sketch Club" with the purpose of "talking over art matters in general and to judge pictures." Meetings were originally in private homes and then moved to the Deardorf Building at 11th and Main in downtown Kansas City. The club had its first exhibition in 1887 and 12 benefactors stepped forward to form the Kansas City Art Association and School of Design.

In 1927 Howard Vanderslice purchased the August R. Meyer residence, a Germanic castle entitled Marburg and its 8-acre (3.24 ha) estate at 44th and Warwick Boulevard adjacent to the planned Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. A Wight and Wight addition was added to the building. The residence was later renamed "Vanderslice Hall" and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places along with another building on the campus—Mineral Hall. The campus has since expanded to 15 acres (6.07 ha).

In 1935 painter Thomas Hart Benton left New York City to teach at the school. Among the artists Benton influenced as a teacher at KCAI were Frederic James, Margot Peet, Jackson Lee Nesbitt, Roger Medearis, Glenn Gant, and Delmer J. Yoakum.[2] Though Benton brought attention to the Art Institute, he was dismissed in 1941 after making disparaging references to, as he claimed, the excessive influence of homosexuals in the art world.[3]

In 1992 the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art opened on the west side of the campus. On the occasion of its 130th anniversary in 2015, the Kansas City Art Institute received an anonymous donation of $25 million, one of the largest gifts ever to an American art school. The money will be used to bolster the school's general endowment, improve and renovate its campus adjacent to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and, in the form of a challenge grant of $6 million, sharply increase the number of scholarships the school is able to give out.[4]

Notable faculty

Notable alumni


  1. Diaz-Camacho, Vicky (December 1, 2017). "Largest Kansas City-Area Colleges and Universities". Kansas City Business Journal.
  2. Under the Influence: The Students of Thomas Hart Benton. Marianne Berardi. The Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art. 1993.
  3. "Benton Hates Museums". Time. April 14, 1941. Retrieved July 29, 2007.
  4. Randy Kennedy (August 18, 2015), Kansas City Art Institute Receives $25 Million Donation New York Times.
  5. Biography of Walt Disney, Film Producer – kchistory.org – Retrieved September 14, 2009 Archived March 9, 2016, at the Wayback Machine
  6. Kenneth B.Sawyer, Pierre Restany The Paintings of Paul Jenkins, Two Cities, Paris, 1961, 125 p. text in English and in french
  7. "Frank Sherman Land – kchistory.org – Retrieved September 14, 2009". kchistory.org. Retrieved April 12, 2018.
  8. "Broken Arrow Performing Arts Center Broken Arrow, Oklahoma". www.brokenarrowpac.com. Retrieved April 12, 2018.

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