Shawnee Mission North alumni thrilled Thomas Hart Benton will be displayed publicly

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Shawnee Mission North alumni are thrilled that the Thomas Hart Benton painting they purchased together will finally get to be displayed for the public to see.

The painting will be on a long-term loan to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Mo. The painting is set to be on display for the public to see late April.

“We are pleased to partner with the Nelson-Atkins to ensure the Benton painting, a treasured class gift, will be displayed publicly and enjoyed by past, present, and future students, along with the many visitors to the museum,” said Dr. Jim Hinson, Shawnee Mission School District Superintendent.

The class of 1957 purchased the “Utah Highlands” painting as a class gift for their school in 1957 for just $750.

The painting has been in storage since 2008 when the painting was appraised for $700,000. A replica has been on display since the appraisal. The school district said they were concerned the value of painting could pose a safety and security threat to students.

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art currently has 130 Benton paintings, drawings and prints in its collection, which makes it the largest public collection of Benton’s work.

“It is fitting that this painting has found a home in the Nelson-Atkins, since the museum has such a strong history with Benton,” said Julián Zugazagoitia, Menefee D. and Mary Louise Blackwell CEO & Director of the Nelson-Atkins in a press release. “We are delighted the students who purchased the painting will be able to come and see it. And the timing is perfect, because we have a major Thomas Hart Benton exhibition coming in the fall.”