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. 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.
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.
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Kansas City Art Institute
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