History

From Sketch Club to
Renowned Art School

In 1885, an enterprising group of Kansas Citians with a mutual appreciation for art decided formed a Sketch Club. They had no idea this Sketch Club would lay the groundwork for an institution that would become a distinguished four-year college of art and design.

Notable names associated with the Kansas City Art Institute include Walt Disney, who took Saturday classes here as a child; painter Thomas Hart Benton, who taught here from 1935 to 1941; multimedia artist Robert Rauschenberg, who studied fashion design at KCAI; sculptor, conceptual artist and writer Robert Morris; celebrated, present-day performance artist, noted fabric sculptor and more recent KCAI graduate, Nick Cave, and the list goes on.

Today, KCAI is an impressive reflection of its 130-year history and the community in which it evolved.

View timeline of KCAI