Timeline of the Kansas City Art Institute

1885: Sketch Club forms as the first organized art effort in the city.

1887: Kansas City Art Association and School of Design is incorporated.

1893: Fire destroys the association’s equipment and financial problems ensue; the association’s operations are limited from 1894 to 1906.

1907: The Fine Arts Institute of KC is incorporated, the successor to the association.

1914–1918: During World War I faculty and students raise funds for the Red Cross by selling their artwork; students create posters to promote U.S. Navy enlistment.

1915: Saturday classes for school children begin at the Fine Arts Institute.

1915–1917: Walt Disney attends Saturday classes.

1917: The first Beaux Arts ball, a fundraising event, is held.

1918: John Steuart Curry attends summer classes (his first formal art training).

1920: J.C. Nichols becomes president of the Fine Arts Institute of KC’s board.

1920: Name change from Fine Arts Institute of KC to the Kansas City Art Institute.

1920s: KCAI begins hosting Midwestern Art Shows of work by Missouri and Kansas artists.

1924: Mrs. Downing loans books to start a library at KCAI.

1927: Howard Vanderslice purchases and donates August R. Meyer residence.

1930s: Financial crisis. Fireside suppers, auctions, lectures and outdoor activities are hosted.

1931–1943: The Annual Beaux Arts Balls raise about $1,500 each year.

1935–1941: Thomas Hart Benton is chair of Painting department.

1940: KCAI is credited with being the first school to inaugurate a civilian and industrial research camouflage training program (Time Magazine, October).

1945: The G.I. Bill boosts enrollment

1947: KCAI becomes qualified to grant B.F.A. or B.A.A. degrees and offers master’s degrees.

1948: Enrollment reaches 600 students.

1948: Leonard Pryor becomes the first African American to attend KCAI. Robert Rauschenberg enrolls in the interior design department.

1963: The student Living Center opens.

1964: KCAI becomes fully accredited by NCA.

1977: KCAI organizes the first Renaissance Festival in Kansas City; the festival is sold in 1997.

1983: The preservation and restoration of Mineral Hall is completed.

1996–2004: KCAI undergoes $18 million worth of campus improvements.

1999: The H&R Block Artspace opens.

2000–2004: The continuing education department increases enrollment from 339 in 1998 to 700 in 2004 and begins hosting Educators ArtLab.

2002-2003: The Jannes Library and Learning Center opens in the renovated Cunningham Mansion. The project wins the AIA-Kansas City Merit Award for Excellence in Design and the Historic Kansas City Foundation’s Preservation Award.

2005: KCAI introduces the Community Arts and Service Learning program.

2009: KCAI opens a continuing education facility in the Northland.

2012: KCAI acquires a 10,000-square-foot warehouse to renovate and house the Fiber department.

2014: KCAI’s School for Continuing and Professional Studies consolidates all classes to a new building located at 32 E. 46th St., Kansas City, MO.

2014: KCAI introduces fifth-year post-baccalaureate program in art education.

2014: The H&R Block Artspace celebrates its 15th anniversary.

2015: Tony Jones was named 24th President of KCAI.

2015: KCAI receives a $25 million donation from an anonymous donor.

2015: A $750,000 renovation is executed in the Richard J. Stern Ceramics Building at KCAI.

2015: KCAI installs 100 solar panels on the roof of the East Building in an effort to reduce energy costs and become better stewards of the environment.

2016: David T. Beals Studios open.

2016: Rowland Commons is redesigned.

2016: KCAI’s Vanderslice Hall undergoes historic preservation.

2016: KCAI Crossroads Gallery: Center for Contemporary Practice opens.

2019: Minor in Entrepreneurship in Art & Design is introduced.

2020: Barbara Marshall Residence Hall, Wylie Dining, and Nerman Cafe open

2020: Paul and Linda DeBruce Hall opens.

2020: Tony Jones Studios for Animation and Illustration and KCAI Gallery opens.

2022: Nerman Family President Tony Jones retires.

2022: Ruki Neuhold-Ravikumar becomes the 25th President of KCAI and is named Nerman Family President.