The Kansas City Art Institute (KCAI) is a prestigious private art school located in Kansas City, Missouri that offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. Accredited by both the National Association of Schools of Art and Design and Higher Learning Commission, KCAI has a faculty of around 75 members and an enrollment of approximately 700 students.
The school has a rich history dating back to its founding in 1885, when a group of art enthusiasts formed the “Sketch Club” to discuss and evaluate artwork. After several successful exhibitions, the Kansas City Art Association and School of Design was established with the help of 12 benefactors. KCAI’s campus has grown from its original location at the Deardorf Building to its current size of 15 acres, which includes historic buildings such as Vanderslice Hall and Mineral Hall.
In 1935, renowned painter Thomas Hart Benton joined the faculty and taught several notable artists, including Frederic James, Margot Peet, and Glenn Gant. Despite Benton’s contributions to the school, he was dismissed in 1941 after making controversial comments about the role of homosexuals in the art world.
KCAI’s campus continues to evolve, with the addition of the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in 1992 and a recent $25 million anonymous donation, which will be used to renovate the campus, bolster the school’s endowment, and increase the number of scholarships offered to students.