Kansas City Art Institute

Kansas City Art Institute
Type Private, independent, four-year college
Established 1885 (1885)
Affiliation National Association of Schools of Art and Design
Academic affiliation
Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design
Academic staff
Students 600
Location Kansas City, Missouri, US
Campus green at 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.

KCAI is an accredited institutional 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 about 75 faculty members and some 600 students.

KCAI offers the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, in which a comprehensive liberal arts program is complemented by emphasis in one of the following studio majors: Animation, Art History, Ceramics, Creative Writing, Digital Filmmaking, Digital Media, Fiber, Graphic Design, Illustration, Painting, Photography & New Media, Printmaking, and Sculpture.


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.[1] 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.[2]

In 1977, the Kansas City Renaissance Festival was founded as a benefit for the school, which it remained until sold to a for-profit company in 1999. 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.[3]

Notable faculty

Notable alumni


  1. Under the Influence: The Students of Thomas Hart Benton. Marianne Berardi. The Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art. 1993.
  2. "Benton Hates Museums". Time. 1941-04-14. Retrieved 2007-07-29.
  3. Randy Kennedy (August 18, 2015), Kansas City Art Institute Receives $25 Million Donation New York Times.
  4. Biography of Walt Disney, Film Producer - kchistory.org - Retrieved September 14, 2009
  5. Kenneth B.Sawyer, Pierre Restany The Paintings of Paul Jenkins, Two Cities, Paris, 1961, 125 p. text in english and in french
  6. Frank Sherman Land - kchistory.org - Retrieved September 14, 2009
  7. Christmas With Kathryn Zaremba
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Coordinates: 39°02′47″N 94°34′59″W / 39.046253°N 94.58308°W / 39.046253; -94.58308

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