Central Library

Rediscover Kansas City Art Deco

Bill McDevitt founded the Kansas City Art Deco Society in 1996 to "preserve the bold geometric patterns and streamlined designs that comprised the area's signature architecture in the years between the World Wars" (-Kansas City Business Journal). This particular work features a woman seated on a red velvet couch in front of a circular window encompassed in granite. The strong contrast of the grated window and the conical light fixture in the background make for an interesting juxtaposition and highlight of the building's architecture. The palette of the piece is primarily purple and red.

Relief of August R. Meyer

This bas relief sculpture depicts August R. Meyer, Kansas City's first president of the Board of Park Commissioners, with great dignity. He stands in a powerful position looking into the distance while standing beneath a tree that frames the relief. An image of Meyer immersed in the field of his dedication and position is created by the use of specific attributes. He stands with binoculars in hand and instruments including a globe and scrolled documents appear at Meyer's side. Meyer's lasting reverence within city government would warrant such a piece.

Renaissance Revival Bookcase

This large-scale, Renaissance Revival style bookcase has five cabinet spaces with glass doors framed by ornate wood carvings. The massiveness of the bookcase is balanced by well integrated and articulate ornament. The glass cabinet doors reveal the contents thereby presenting themselves as the true power of the piece. The base protrudes past the cabinet doors of the bookcase. The bookcase is crowned by a trio of iconic figures in literature with a wooden bust of Shakespeare in the center and low reliefs of Lord Byron to the left and Washington Irving to the right.

Reproduction of A Map of Lewis and Clark's Track, Across the Western Portion of North America From the Mississippi to the Pacific Ocean; By Order of the Executive of the United States, in 1804, 5 and 6.

This reproduction depicts the original map and the written account of the expedition by Lewis and Clark that completely changed the American mapping of the Northwest. The cartographic rendering provides the first accurate depiction of the relationship of the sources of the Missouri, the sources of the Columbia, and the Rocky Mountains. The map was copied by Samuel Lewis from William Clark's original drawing and was later engraved by Samuel Harrison.

San Carlos Grandfather Clock

The San Carlos Grandfather clock stands at six and a half feet tall. It is rectangular in form with little ornamentation and is made of wood with a cherry varnish. Clear glass windows provide a look inside the clock with its brushed silver metal weights and pendulum. The face is off-white with black Roman numerals and black accents. A small drawer rests in between the clock face and base.


The essence of "sanctuary" pervades the atmosphere of this scene and proves an appropriate title for the work. Splatters of green and yellow paint around the edges materialize into the slender trunks of birch trees at the center. The resulting forest is dense but breaks to provide a passageway to a golden opening on the other side. An interplay of commotion and serenity recreate the energy and yet simultaneous stillness in a forest such as this one. The viewer feels the presence of sanctity in the midst of the foliage but realizes its potential as well in the golden glow ahead.

Santa Elena Canyon, Big Bend National Park, Texas, c. 1947

Ansel Adams was a pivotal 20th-century photographer and environmentalist of the American landscape. After extensive travel through the West, Adams developed an eye for the grandeur and beauty of the world around him and used photography as his means for communicating it. His website remembers him as such: "Adams was an unremitting activist for the cause of wilderness and the environment.

Sarah's Garden

In this print, a young woman stands before a plot of green corn in a sun hat, scarf, sweater, and red and white checkered dress. She holds the handle of a gardening tool in one hand and a bucket in the other. She looks directly at the viewer and also into the sun causing her eyes to squint. Robert Duncan is an established artist who began his career making Western American art and later shifted his artistic focus to his family and rural life in his home state of Utah, where this painting was likely inspired.

Scales of Justice

This equal-arm balance scale is comprised of metal (likely brass) and weighs in accordance with the metric system. The most simplistic version of a balancing scale, the equal arm scale balance has been used throughout the earliest periods of history as an elementary lever. The oldest evidence for the presence of weighing scales is dated to circa 2400 to 1800 B.C. in the Indus River valley. This traditional scale consists of a fulcrum, or beam, a pointer, and two scale pans. The two scale plans ( plates) are suspended at equal distance from the fulcrum.

Scholar with Illuminated Manuscripts

This print focuses on the manuscripts of the Liber Floridus by Lambert of Saint-Omer. The depiction alludes to the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the State University of Ghent and the consequent edits of the manuscripts, a presently famous canon, executed by a number of dedicated scholars such as the one pictured. The Liber Floridus is a compilation of a large and richly illustrated encyclopedia dedicated to Lambert's 12th-century conception of the fields of human knowledge.

Secret Garden

This painting reproduction depicts an infused scene of bright floral and green topiary. The original work was painted in an impressionistic style, filling the canvas with different flowers and greenery. One can imagine Coreopsis, Gladiolus, Pansies, Poppies, and different spring time perennials amidst a lush green landscape. Hues of green purple, orange, white, yellow and red predominate through out. The lower right depicts the edge of a pond with three orange fish streaming to the surface. The signature of the artist "Michael Shannon" is located in the lower right corner.


Sidney J. Hurwitz, born 1932, is an American artist known for bold lines, heavy outlines and splotches of color within his work. The landscape, "Skyline", features distinct artist tenancies from weighty black outlines for the contour of the cityscape, and delicate use of lines to form cross hatching and structural formation. The color of the composition ranges from muted orange tones dedicated for the horizon, and umber hues for the city. Structures are abstract and are subtly alluded to in this work.

Southern Belle Train Advertising

In 1940, the Kansas City Southern Lines introduced the Southern Belle passenger train that traveled between Kansas City and New Orleans. It also traveled to Baton Rouge and Lake Charles in Louisiana. In Texas, it traveled to Port Arthur and Beaumont. To advertise the train, they published a song by Cecil Taylor titled Southern Belle for which the lyrics and sheet music can be read on the lower quadrants of the print. The cover page of the sheet music takes up the upper left quadrant where the title "Southern Belle" is scripted across the top above a young woman.


Tomikichiro Tokuriki was known for integrating two printmaking movements in Japan known as shin hanga and sōsaku hanga. Shin hanga were prints that depicted "urban Japanese entertaining themselves to distract from the reality of fleeting existence" and whose production was driven by the vision of the publisher instead of individual artists (taken from -myjapanesehanga.com and the artist's biography). Sōsaku hanga was a revival of shin hanga but was artist-driven, and also integrated more Western artistic movements into their compositions.

Spiderman and the Incredible Hulk: Chaos in Kansas City

"Chaos in Kansas City" was the title of a twenty page comic that was a 1982 supplement of The Kansas City Star. This graphic insert promoted clothing lines carried by the Jones Store. Brands such as Farah, Jordache, London Fog, and Lee were advertised. The cover depicts The Amazing Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk and Kraven the Hunter battling it out in front of the historic Jones Store, located in downtown Kansas City, Missouri. The scene also contains 9 bystanders fleeing from this epic fight. This scene is awash with high and low saturated color.

Spirit of Commerce

A miniature bronze maquette representing the Spirit of Commerce. The female figure is clothed in a long dress with a pleated skirt and scale-like top complete with a bow tied at the waist. A flowing shawl is draped over the figure's shoulders and arms. Her face is nobly directed upward and outward toward the viewer. Her hair is pulled up and tied back creating a Grecian wreath-like style. In her right hand, she holds a flaming torch symbolizing progress. In her left hand, she holds the caduceous of Mercury. The Roman God, Mercury, symbolizes commerce.

Spirit of Industry

A miniature bronze maquette representing the Spirit of Industry. The female figured is clothed in a pleated dress. A flowing shawl is draped over her shoulders and arms. The face of the figure looks nobly upward and outward at the viewer. The hair of the figure is short and accented with a headband. In the right hand she holds a sheaf of wheat representing agriculture. In the left hand she holds a distaff representing manufacturing. The figure, in her full stature, stands barefoot atop half of the world.

Spring Storm

Thomas Hart Benton was the at the forefront of Regionalist art movement. Benton's paintings portrayed a fluid motion to both landscape and sculpted figures, capturing every day scenes in his North American visual narratives. Benton was born on 1889 in Neosho, Missouri, and spent much of his adolescence in this state. These Midwestern roots can be seen strongly within the context of his work. Benton studied both within the United States, attending the The School of The Art Institute of Chicago, and later he traveled abroad to France, studying at the Académie Julian in Paris.

St. Peter's Dome Replica

This is a decorative model of a bell tower derived from the well-known Renaissance design of St. Peter's Dome. While not an exact replica of the dome, its interesting design puts it in the realm of imaginary architecture. In this sculpture, wooden beams replace the spire and painted coffers of the original dome. A hinge attached below the dome converts it into a lid that covers the cylindrical chamber below. The chamber, formed by a colonnade, encloses a spiraling staircase and rests on a weighted base. The wood used in the sculpture is oak and handcrafted with a French distressed finish.

Study in Blue and Black

This abstract original print finds an aesthetic balance of form and design through the use of basic shapes and color. Cubist elements are significant to this work by artist Sonia Aimee Hansen that were typical of the early twentieth century. Hues of blue are prevalent to signify the ground, horizon, and apparent automobile that appears in the foreground. Black is the additional part of the color composition, forming the architectural structure in the background and it accentuates portions of the automobile. A combination of blue and black are used to cross hatch the ground.