Post Date: Wed, November 17, 2021

In 1956, Thomas Hart Benton invited young photographer Michael Mardikes into his Kansas City studio and home. In their time together, Mardikes took 1,080 photos of the famed painter at work and at rest with his family.  But only four photographs were ever published. Mardikes, 93, filed away the remaining negatives for 65 years.  Now 32 prints are on display as part of the exhibition, “An Artist at Home in America: Michael Mardikes’ Photographs of Thomas Hart Benton.” The show, which opened November 20 in the Central Library’s Rocky and Gabriela Mountain Gallery, offers the first public view of these images. 

Post Date: Wed, May 11, 2022

As part of the Library’s Big Read 2022, the exhibition The Heart Is a Fist: Contemporary Art from Haskell Indian Nations University, on display at the Central Library through May 29, features paintings, prints, drawings, and sculptures by Indigenous artists. Learn more about the work and hear from the young artists in an upcoming public roundtable event. 

Post Date: Wed, May 31, 2023

Amy Cousins and Ruben Castillo have been friends for five years. They are both artists and educators – Cousins in Philadelphia, Castillo in Kansas City – and they both often root their work in archival material as they have for their joint exhibition, All Modes Are Open to Us, which imagines new forms of “queer magic” through themes of domestic life, archives, and decoration. The two artists discussed their influences and respective practices for the pieces on display in the exhibition, which runs through August 12, 2023, in Central Library’s Guldner Gallery.


Post Date: Mon, July 5, 2021

Colorful murals and other public art have become a distinguishing feature of the richly diverse Northeast area of Kansas City. Some 40-45 paintings now adorn businesses, schools and abandoned buildings that once were eyesores. They pop out in local parks. Along city streets. In tucked-away alleys.  More than 30 of those images are spotlighted in an exhibit, Community in Color: Murals of the Historic Northeast, at the Kansas City Public Library’s North-East Branch. The collection features high-definition, digitally displayed photographs of the murals and other al fresco artwork shot by Kansas City photographer David Remley

Post Date: Fri, August 9, 2019

This week marks 43 years since Ralph Steadman visited a muggy Kansas City to cover the 1976 Republican National Convention for Rolling Stone magazine. Twelve of Steadman’s inimitable drawings ultimately were published alongside John Dean’s first-person story, “Rituals of the Herd.” Six of them - and six more Steadman illustrations from his time in Kansas City - are part of the traveling exhibit, Ralph Steadman: A Retrospective, on display at the Library’s Central Library through September 8, 2019.

In 2016, the Library marked the 40th anniversary of the ’76 Convention with a special exhibit, Republican Showdown in Kansas City,  which included several pieces from the Library’s Missouri Valley Special Collections. The MVSC houses a number of artifacts from the convention and, in conjunction with its 43rd anniversary and the Steadman retrospective, we thought we’d showcase a bit of both.

Post Date: Tue, July 6, 2021

With Library buildings open, one of the experiences patrons can once again enjoy in person is viewing exhibits in our galleries and spaces. Check out the current lineup on display and come visit and explore these celebrations of community art, culture, and history.

Post Date: Wed, March 27, 2019

Is reading about art like dancing about architecture?  If an artist sits in a vacant gallery, is it art? If an author writes a novel with a real person as a character is it fiction? An FYI Book Group discussion of Museum of Modern Love by Heather Rose held at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art had book and art lovers pondering these very questions. Readers also had the chance to pose their questions to the author, who dropped in via Facetime from her home in Hobart, Tasmania.

Post Date: Fri, August 3, 2018

Cartooning pioneer Will Eisner helped develop a new style of visual storytelling: the graphic novel. Eisner's work is the focus of a Library exhibit currently on display at the Central Library, Will Eisner: The Centennial Celebration, 1917-2017. In conjunction, the Library recaps a recent presentation about Eisner’s impact on artists and readers alike, and we highlight some notable titles in our graphic novel collection – both physical and digital.

Post Date: Thu, January 24, 2019

Kansas City artist Benjamin Wills’ outreach to inmates began with letters of support to two acquaintances serving prison terms. Wills wrote to more men and women in confinement, becoming increasingly fascinated by their stories and common struggles with abandonment, lost identity, and sadness. When one sent him a paper airplane laden with messages, it inspired a unique project: the exhibit Airplanes, currently on display in the Central Library’s Guldner Gallery.

Post Date: Mon, February 6, 2023

The system’s first branch – the oldest in Kansas City – is marking its 125th birthday with a week of remembrances, appearances, and other activities, plus a special art exhibition.

Post Date: Mon, November 19, 2018

Nearly 103,000 people visited eight exhibits in Central Library's first-floor Genevieve Guldner and second-floor Rocky and Gabriella Polony Mountain galleries in 2017-18, an average of 302 each day the Library was open. Both numbers were Library records. The daily average spiked further, to 375, in the first few months of ’18-19.

Post Date: Fri, May 22, 2020

Gabriella Polony Mountain was passionate, expressive, indelible. And so was the art  created by the namesake of the Rocky and Gabriella Mountain Gallery at the downtown Central Library over a remarkable, 102-year life. Polony Mountain died Monday, May 18, 2020.

Post Date: Thu, May 30, 2019

Artist Ralph Steadman is known for his creative collaboration with writer Hunter S. Thompson, matching outrageous illustrations to Thompson’s gonzo writing. Beyond that partnership, Steadman’s career spans over 60 years; this summer, the Library is among a few U.S. sites hosting a touring retrospective exhibit of over 100 of his original works.

Post Date: Tue, July 16, 2019

The ink-splattered exhibit Ralph Steadman: A Retrospective, on display at the Central Library through Sept. 8, 2019, has been popular among art lovers throughout the region. During the exhibit’s more than three-month stay, the Library has been offering other ways to celebrate all things gonzo, including events and insightful online stories about Steadman's life and work. Merchandise is also available for purchase; a portion of sales of benefits the Library.

Post Date: Tue, February 14, 2023

Two innovative art exhibitions at the Central Library are nearing their closing dates, but time to see them hasn’t entirely run out. Headspace, featuring 17 vibrant watercolors on paper by local artist Andy Ryan, has been extended through March 11. Peripheral Visions, which closes March 25, is comprised of dozens of pieces in various media by artists from Imagine That! KC and Johnson County Developmental Supports’ Emerging Artists program.

Post Date: Tue, June 21, 2022

Through photographs, video storytelling, and spatial elements, Evicted is an immersive exhibition illuminates the harrowing experience of eviction – faced annually by thousands in Kansas City and across the country. Inspired by Matthew Desmond’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, the exhibit is on display at the Central Library through July 17, 2022.

Post Date: Wed, June 23, 2021

As construction of a new $1.5 billion, single-terminal Kansas City International Airport moves toward completion in March 2023, a new Library exhibit charts the rich history of air travel in the city and surrounding area. ‘Nearest by Air to Everywhere’: A Tour of Kansas City’s Aviation History is now on display on the fifth floor of the downtown Central Library.