August 18, 2015

KCAI Receives $25 Million Donation

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (Aug. 18, 2015) – In its 130th year, the Kansas City Art Institute (KCAI) is honoring its past and celebrating its future, thanks to a $25 million gift, believed to be one of the largest donations to a North American art college.

The Greater Kansas City Community Foundation presented the $25 million donation on behalf of an anonymous donor during a private reception August 18 with KCAI’s board of trustees, faculty, staff and Kansas City arts community supporters in attendance.

“For more than a century, the Kansas City Art Institute has been preparing students to transform the world creatively through art and design,” said Debbie Wilkerson, president and CEO of the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation. “This gift comes from a donor who has the highest confidence in the Kansas City Art Institute and, therefore, wants to demonstrate that support financially.”

Tony Jones, interim president of KCAI, said, “The gift is a pillow on which we can dream about the future of our college and know our dreams will become reality. This donation is transformative and will cascade down to students, faculty, alumni, donors and the community, and for that we are truly grateful and unabashedly excited.” The $25 million gift allows KCAI to continue to support its talented pool of students and the faculty and be a leader in art and design education well into the future, Jones said.

KCAI has a distinguished history. Notable names associated with the school include legendary painter and former KCAI faculty member Thomas Hart Benton; artists Robert Rauschenberg, John Buck, Akio Takamori, and Nick Cave; and Walt Disney, who took KCAI classes as a teenager, to name a few. Today, KCAI is an innovative leader in art and design education, preparing students to creatively transform the world through those practices. It’s a mission that’s increasingly important and relevant as employers, gallery owners, museum curators and collectors seek out the next generation of innovators and creative thinkers.

The funding includes $14 million for a general endowment. Five million dollars will go toward campus improvements, including deferred maintenance on buildings and landscaping projects. Six million dollars, in the form of a challenge grant, will be used for student scholarships, endowed professorships and visiting professors. Through Dec. 31, 2016, an anonymous fund at the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation will match and double any donation KCAI receives from outside sources up to a total of $6 million. The 2:1 scale is unusual, as most donation matches are at a 1:1 level.

KCAI believes the funding will serve as a tool for recruitment and retention of faculty, staff and students, as well as a magnet for other gifts, offering donors a strong foundation on which to build.

“We have a committed board and a climate that’s poised for progress,” said Pat McCown, chair of the board of trustees. “This is only the beginning, and it’s a call to join us at a very exciting time. Over the past few weeks, we’ve celebrated the completion of a major renovation in the Richard J. Stern Ceramics Building and hosted renowned Chinese artists in a residency on campus for Studio Nong. This is a college with a fully integrated system of education that serves Kansas City, the nation and, increasingly, the world.”

June 16, 2016

William T. Kemper Foundation gives major grant to KCAI for the restoration of magnificent 1895 “Vanderslice Hall“

If the walls of historic Vanderslice Hall could talk, they would tell stories of the famous students and faculty who created art here at KCAI; the lavish Beaux Arts Ball in the 1930s featured in Life magazine; and elephant rides on the lawn for Morgan Day in 1970. Thanks to a major grant from the William T. Kemper Foundation, Vanderslice Hall ­– our very own “Downton Abbey” – will continue to serve as the epicenter for festive social, enrollment and administrative activities of the college. Kirk Gastinger of GastingerWalker, an award-winning historical preservation and architectural firm, has overseen the exterior restoration of Vanderslice. Careful research and its application have ensured the historical integrity of the building: Master craftsman tuck-pointed the building, by hand. An extensive review of the mortar was completed to ensure it matched the original. All of the stonework was carefully power-washed or gently hand-scrubbed. The historic art-glass windows have been removed, cleaned and replaced. Nearly all of the windows have been replaced with new thermal-pane casements, matching the original. Roof repairs and intricate metal repairs are nearly complete, as is the courtyard and landscaping. According to Gastinger, “One of the many goals in historic preservation is for read more…

June 1, 2016

Stanley H. Durwood Foundation Endows and Names the Chair of Ceramics at Kansas City Art Institute

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (June 1, 2016) —The Stanley H. Durwood Foundation, at the direction of Charles Egan, trustee, has endowed and named The Kathleen Collins Chair of Ceramics at the Kansas City Art Institute. Cary Esser, the leader of KCAI’s ceramics program since 1996, and an artist of international distinction, is the first recipient. This contribution is part of the 2:1 matching challenge grant, representing a portion of the $25 million gift given to the college by an anonymous donor, via the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation last August. It is the third named, endowed position announced this year at KCAI.