Thomas Hart Benton Home & Studio State Historic Site

Thomas Hart Benton Home & Studio State Historic Site The OFFICIAL page for the Thomas Hart Benton Home and Studio State Historic Site in Kansas City, MO. Thomas Hart Benton was an American muralist/painter from Missouri.

He lived with his family in this house from 1939-1975. Exhibits showcase his artwork. Visitors can still see coffee cans full of paintbrushes, numerous paints, and a stretched canvas waiting to be transformed into another of his masterpieces. This is the place to get in touch with an American legend. The state park system is composed of 92 parks and historic sites managed by the Dept. of Natural R

He lived with his family in this house from 1939-1975. Exhibits showcase his artwork. Visitors can still see coffee cans full of paintbrushes, numerous paints, and a stretched canvas waiting to be transformed into another of his masterpieces. This is the place to get in touch with an American legend. The state park system is composed of 92 parks and historic sites managed by the Dept. of Natural R

Operating as usual

Mornings in the studio.
10/07/2021

Mornings in the studio.

Mornings in the studio.

In 1952, actor Claude Rains and musician Susan Reed visited Thomas Hart Benton and his family for Alistair Cooke’s tv pr...
08/29/2021
Claude Rains, Susan Reed and The Bentons At Home (2/2) | Omnibus With Alistair Cooke

In 1952, actor Claude Rains and musician Susan Reed visited Thomas Hart Benton and his family for Alistair Cooke’s tv program Omnibus. The video claims to be shot at the Benton’s Kansas City home, but it certainly isn’t the current Benton Home State Historic Site; so it must be at a friend’s house, or possibly filmed in their summer home on Martha’s Vineyard. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CikktY4cNgQ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y5vEm9vAu1w

Excerpt #2: Alistair Cooke visits American painter Thomas Hart Benton, Rita Benton and daughter Jessie Benton for poems and songs with guests Claude Rains an...

A radiant Luna moth was spotted right outside Tom Benton’s studio door this morning.
08/19/2021

A radiant Luna moth was spotted right outside Tom Benton’s studio door this morning.

A radiant Luna moth was spotted right outside Tom Benton’s studio door this morning.

07/30/2021

Effective Aug. 5, 2021, there will be no guided tours available at the Benton Home. Our visitor center will still be open, but visitors will not be able to go inside the studio or house. As an alternate experience, a 10-minute video about Thomas Hart Benton and the house will be available.

The visitor center will be open 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Thursday - Saturday, and Monday; and 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. Sunday.

While we aren’t fond of seeing spiders in Tom Benton’s studio, we love seeing them in Rita Benton’s garden! The light th...
07/23/2021

While we aren’t fond of seeing spiders in Tom Benton’s studio, we love seeing them in Rita Benton’s garden! The light this morning hit this huge spider web just right!

While we aren’t fond of seeing spiders in Tom Benton’s studio, we love seeing them in Rita Benton’s garden! The light this morning hit this huge spider web just right!

“Nature alone is antique, and the oldest art a mushroom.”-Thomas CarlyleThe recent spring showers have brought May flowe...
05/25/2021

“Nature alone is antique, and the oldest art a mushroom.”
-Thomas Carlyle

The recent spring showers have brought May flowers and mushrooms to the Benton Home!

“Nature alone is antique, and the oldest art a mushroom.”
-Thomas Carlyle

The recent spring showers have brought May flowers and mushrooms to the Benton Home!

Happy birthday, Tom Benton!(April 15, 1889 – January 19, 1975)
04/15/2021

Happy birthday, Tom Benton!
(April 15, 1889 – January 19, 1975)

Happy birthday, Tom Benton!
(April 15, 1889 – January 19, 1975)

Spring has sprung at the Benton Home and now our Visitor Center is open with exhibits! Stop by and see us this month.
04/01/2021

Spring has sprung at the Benton Home and now our Visitor Center is open with exhibits! Stop by and see us this month.

Spring has sprung at the Benton Home and now our Visitor Center is open with exhibits! Stop by and see us this month.

04/01/2021

Effective May 1st, the Benton Home will offer tours Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Monday at 10:00, 11:00, 1:00, 2:00 & 3:00. Sunday, there will not be a 10:00 tour. Limit of 5 people per tour on a first-come first-served basis. Tours cost $5 per person and last 45 minutes.

02/25/2021
Missouri Untold: KC Crossroads

Introducing the Missouri Untold series. On this episode, two of Missouri's most famous artists, Walt Disney and Thomas Hart Benton, cross paths in Kansas City. #MissouriUntold

Sternwheeler ‘D.R. Weller’ – 1943Pencil on Paper – 10.5 x 16.75”Location as of [1998] – Benton Testamentary Trust/UMB Ba...
02/11/2021

Sternwheeler ‘D.R. Weller’ – 1943
Pencil on Paper – 10.5 x 16.75”
Location as of [1998] – Benton Testamentary Trust/UMB Bank

Here is the sketch that Thomas Hart Benton made for his painting “Mississippi Towboat.” The “D.R. Weller” must have been one of the last stern-wheeled steamboats operating on the river when he saw her in 1943. Most of the others had reached the end of their often short lifespan, been converted to diesel power or replaced by war surplus craft. The “D.R. Weller” was owned by Standard Oil, having been purchased soon after completion by Coal Valley Marine Ways of Pittsburgh in 1926. That same year, she disabled her rudders upon hitting a fog-shrouded bank between Vicksburg and Natchez MS, but she was put back into service and ran for another 20 years.

Benton admired those old steamboats, “with their gingerbread smokestacks and ornate pilothouses.” Upon seeing one wrecked and abandoned, he compared it to “some proud but bedraggled and improvident old woman, who after passing a glittering and gay life has hunted out a secret place in which to die forgotten.” Contrasted with the powerful, stocky and functional modern boats, Tom called the old steamboats “aristocrats” and said, “and like many a true aristocrat of her time she had probably been pretty hard on those who worked in her service.”

Sternwheeler ‘D.R. Weller’ – 1943
Pencil on Paper – 10.5 x 16.75”
Location as of [1998] – Benton Testamentary Trust/UMB Bank

Here is the sketch that Thomas Hart Benton made for his painting “Mississippi Towboat.” The “D.R. Weller” must have been one of the last stern-wheeled steamboats operating on the river when he saw her in 1943. Most of the others had reached the end of their often short lifespan, been converted to diesel power or replaced by war surplus craft. The “D.R. Weller” was owned by Standard Oil, having been purchased soon after completion by Coal Valley Marine Ways of Pittsburgh in 1926. That same year, she disabled her rudders upon hitting a fog-shrouded bank between Vicksburg and Natchez MS, but she was put back into service and ran for another 20 years.

Benton admired those old steamboats, “with their gingerbread smokestacks and ornate pilothouses.” Upon seeing one wrecked and abandoned, he compared it to “some proud but bedraggled and improvident old woman, who after passing a glittering and gay life has hunted out a secret place in which to die forgotten.” Contrasted with the powerful, stocky and functional modern boats, Tom called the old steamboats “aristocrats” and said, “and like many a true aristocrat of her time she had probably been pretty hard on those who worked in her service.”

THIS WEEK IN BENTON HISTORY:New York Sun – February 8, 1936:  The previous fall, Benton left New York City—his home for ...
02/08/2021

THIS WEEK IN BENTON HISTORY:
New York Sun – February 8, 1936:

The previous fall, Benton left New York City—his home for more than 20 years—with great flair. He had no qualms with telling New Yorkers he thought their art scene was passé because they all borrowed and copied European schools of art. Benton loudly proclaimed he was heading back to Missouri where he looked forward to seeing a homegrown, American art renaissance. As you can imagine, the New York art world didn’t take these accusations kindly and were more than happy to see Tom leave. Fast forward to five months later. Art critic Henry McBride hopped on a call where Benton was being interviewed and he got the distinct impression all was not happy in paradise. Tom recently saw an exhibition of local artists and found that they were disappointingly similar to the New York artists he’d just left behind. McBride snidely guessed, “…I got the feeling that we’re going to have Thomas Hart Benton back on our hands before the winter is over—if we don’t watch out.” Well, McBride, never bet against Benton. He stayed, he taught many art students at the Kansas City Art Institute, took plenty of commissions and called Kansas City his home until the day he passed away in 1975.

THIS WEEK IN BENTON HISTORY:
New York Sun – February 8, 1936:

The previous fall, Benton left New York City—his home for more than 20 years—with great flair. He had no qualms with telling New Yorkers he thought their art scene was passé because they all borrowed and copied European schools of art. Benton loudly proclaimed he was heading back to Missouri where he looked forward to seeing a homegrown, American art renaissance. As you can imagine, the New York art world didn’t take these accusations kindly and were more than happy to see Tom leave. Fast forward to five months later. Art critic Henry McBride hopped on a call where Benton was being interviewed and he got the distinct impression all was not happy in paradise. Tom recently saw an exhibition of local artists and found that they were disappointingly similar to the New York artists he’d just left behind. McBride snidely guessed, “…I got the feeling that we’re going to have Thomas Hart Benton back on our hands before the winter is over—if we don’t watch out.” Well, McBride, never bet against Benton. He stayed, he taught many art students at the Kansas City Art Institute, took plenty of commissions and called Kansas City his home until the day he passed away in 1975.

Mississippi Towboat - 1945Gouache on Paper – 19 x 29”Location as of [Current] – Philbrook Museum of Art, TulsaNot only d...
02/05/2021

Mississippi Towboat - 1945
Gouache on Paper – 19 x 29”
Location as of [Current] – Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa

Not only did Thomas Hart Benton love to paint trains (as you saw in our previous two Paintings of the Week), but riverboats were also of great fascination for him. Benton enjoyed the romance and tall tales of America’s big rivers, such as the legend of the huge whirlpool below Memphis where “hundreds of people had been pulled down” or the semi-mythical riverman Mike Fink. Tom wrote extensively about this aspect of life on the rivers in his autobiography. And he lamented “the actualities of contemporary river traffic with its modern boats and sanitary quarters, with its systems of mechanized loading where skill rather than brute force is the order of the day.”

Here you see both the old and new boats together in a single painting. One of the last sternwheel steam tugboats operating, it’s pushing a modern barge filled with oil tanks and industrial equipment. In 1943, Benton was commissioned by Standard Oil to paint their new fluid catalytic cracker in Baton Rouge. This painting is part of that series. Standard used it on the cover of their corporate magazine “The Lamp” in Feb. 1946. The towboat itself was the “D.R. Weller,” originally named the “City of Pittsburgh,” having been built in that city in 1926. The “D.R. Weller” was sold and dismantled in 1950.

Mississippi Towboat - 1945
Gouache on Paper – 19 x 29”
Location as of [Current] – Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa

Not only did Thomas Hart Benton love to paint trains (as you saw in our previous two Paintings of the Week), but riverboats were also of great fascination for him. Benton enjoyed the romance and tall tales of America’s big rivers, such as the legend of the huge whirlpool below Memphis where “hundreds of people had been pulled down” or the semi-mythical riverman Mike Fink. Tom wrote extensively about this aspect of life on the rivers in his autobiography. And he lamented “the actualities of contemporary river traffic with its modern boats and sanitary quarters, with its systems of mechanized loading where skill rather than brute force is the order of the day.”

Here you see both the old and new boats together in a single painting. One of the last sternwheel steam tugboats operating, it’s pushing a modern barge filled with oil tanks and industrial equipment. In 1943, Benton was commissioned by Standard Oil to paint their new fluid catalytic cracker in Baton Rouge. This painting is part of that series. Standard used it on the cover of their corporate magazine “The Lamp” in Feb. 1946. The towboat itself was the “D.R. Weller,” originally named the “City of Pittsburgh,” having been built in that city in 1926. The “D.R. Weller” was sold and dismantled in 1950.

THIS WEEK IN BENTON HISTORY:PM Daily – February 1, 1943:  It’s funny that now Benton’s mural in the Missouri State Capit...
02/01/2021

THIS WEEK IN BENTON HISTORY:
PM Daily – February 1, 1943: It’s funny that now Benton’s mural in the Missouri State Capitol is one of the most beloved pieces of art in the building, but for years after completing it in 1936, he had to defend the mural against critics. Many Missourians today might find it funny that people complained Tom’s cow was too skinny and a woman changing a baby’s diaper was considered scandalous. Even in 1943, Benton was still justifying things in the mural, such as the infamous machine boss from Kansas City, Tom Pendergast. Apparently, the state legislature wanted Benton to take Pendergast out, but Tom was always a proponent of telling history like it was—regardless of whether it was good or bad. Benton said, “Only fools would try to erase history. Besides that, it would be one hell of a job to take him out. I put him there, so let someone else take him down.” Benton won the battle because the mural remains in the Capitol as he painted it in 1936.

THIS WEEK IN BENTON HISTORY:
PM Daily – February 1, 1943: It’s funny that now Benton’s mural in the Missouri State Capitol is one of the most beloved pieces of art in the building, but for years after completing it in 1936, he had to defend the mural against critics. Many Missourians today might find it funny that people complained Tom’s cow was too skinny and a woman changing a baby’s diaper was considered scandalous. Even in 1943, Benton was still justifying things in the mural, such as the infamous machine boss from Kansas City, Tom Pendergast. Apparently, the state legislature wanted Benton to take Pendergast out, but Tom was always a proponent of telling history like it was—regardless of whether it was good or bad. Benton said, “Only fools would try to erase history. Besides that, it would be one hell of a job to take him out. I put him there, so let someone else take him down.” Benton won the battle because the mural remains in the Capitol as he painted it in 1936.

The Station – 1930sWatercolor – 20 x 18”Location as of [1973] – Graham Gallery, New York Here’s another Cubist train and...
01/28/2021

The Station – 1930s
Watercolor – 20 x 18”
Location as of [1973] – Graham Gallery, New York


Here’s another Cubist train and station with the same title as last week’s painting post. Tom referred to the American migrants who were taking the train to a new, hopefully prosperous, life in the West as “movers” who were “goin’ on through.” He wrote about it in his autobiography: “For the nomadic urges of our western people, the prime symbol of adventurous life has for years been the railroad train… Above all other things it had the power to break down the barriers of locality. Its steam pushed promises, shook up the roots of generations, and moved the hearts of men and women with all the confused mixtures of joy and pain that accompany the thought of separation and departure… Its whistle is the most nostalgic of sounds to my ear. I never hear a train whistle blow without profound impulsions to change, without wanting to pack up my things, to tell my acquaintances to be damned, to be done with them, and go somewhere.”

The Station – 1930s
Watercolor – 20 x 18”
Location as of [1973] – Graham Gallery, New York


Here’s another Cubist train and station with the same title as last week’s painting post. Tom referred to the American migrants who were taking the train to a new, hopefully prosperous, life in the West as “movers” who were “goin’ on through.” He wrote about it in his autobiography: “For the nomadic urges of our western people, the prime symbol of adventurous life has for years been the railroad train… Above all other things it had the power to break down the barriers of locality. Its steam pushed promises, shook up the roots of generations, and moved the hearts of men and women with all the confused mixtures of joy and pain that accompany the thought of separation and departure… Its whistle is the most nostalgic of sounds to my ear. I never hear a train whistle blow without profound impulsions to change, without wanting to pack up my things, to tell my acquaintances to be damned, to be done with them, and go somewhere.”

Reminder: To learn more about these wonderful photos, tune into the Steve Kraske show on KCUR https://www.kcur.org/podca...
01/27/2021
Photos Hidden Away For Decades Provide An Intimate Portrait of Thomas Hart Benton At Work In His Kansas City Studio

Reminder: To learn more about these wonderful photos, tune into the Steve Kraske show on KCUR https://www.kcur.org/podcast/up-to-date at 9:20 on Thursday, Jan. 28

In late 1955, a private club hired painter Thomas Hart Benton to create a small mural for its Kansas City meeting space. A photographer spent several months photographing Benton at work. Most of the negatives stayed out of sight -- until now.

Knickerbocker News [Albany, NY] – January 10, 1959:  The popular and widely viewed Today Show on NBC was celebrating its...
01/21/2021

Knickerbocker News [Albany, NY] – January 10, 1959: The popular and widely viewed Today Show on NBC was celebrating its 8th season on the air. For the anniversary show, the network invited 10 people from various fields to get their thoughts on what the future might hold. Two people from the Kansas City metro area were featured: former President Harry Truman and Thomas Hart Benton. From them, the host, Dave Garroway, wanted to know their thoughts on the future of American government and art respectively, based on what they had seen over the last year. Garroway also invited experts in fields of dance, music, education, diplomacy and architecture (renowned American architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, was also a guest). Although the Benton Home remains closed to the public for health safety, you can stop by and pick up a self-guided walking tour of the Roanoke neighborhood. From that, you can learn about Benton’s home and see a Frank Lloyd Wright house (our next door neighbor to the north)!

Knickerbocker News [Albany, NY] – January 10, 1959: The popular and widely viewed Today Show on NBC was celebrating its 8th season on the air. For the anniversary show, the network invited 10 people from various fields to get their thoughts on what the future might hold. Two people from the Kansas City metro area were featured: former President Harry Truman and Thomas Hart Benton. From them, the host, Dave Garroway, wanted to know their thoughts on the future of American government and art respectively, based on what they had seen over the last year. Garroway also invited experts in fields of dance, music, education, diplomacy and architecture (renowned American architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, was also a guest). Although the Benton Home remains closed to the public for health safety, you can stop by and pick up a self-guided walking tour of the Roanoke neighborhood. From that, you can learn about Benton’s home and see a Frank Lloyd Wright house (our next door neighbor to the north)!

Address

3616 Belleview Ave
Kansas City, MO
64111

39, 47, or 55 city bus. https://ridekc.org/routes/category/midtown

Opening Hours

Monday 10am - 4pm
Thursday 10am - 4pm
Friday 10am - 4pm
Saturday 10am - 4pm
Sunday 11am - 4pm

Telephone

(816) 931-5722

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Thomas Hart Benton was an American muralist/painter from Missouri. He lived with his family in this house from 1939-1975. Exhibits showcase his artwork. Visitors can still see coffee cans full of paintbrushes, numerous paints, and a stretched canvas waiting to be transformed into another of his masterpieces. This is the place to get in touch with an American legend. Learn more about this historic site, visit mostateparks.com/park/thomas-hart-benton-home-and-studio-state-historic-site.

Missouri’s state park system, which has consistently been ranked as one of the top four state park systems in the nation, contains 91 parks and historic sites. Within more than 150,000 acres available to the public, the state park system has something to fit everyone’s needs. The system includes homes of famous Missourians, Civil War battlefields; and reminders of yesterday such as gristmills and covered bridges. The state’s most outstanding landscapes are preserved for everyone’s enjoyment. Missouri State Parks is a division of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

This forum is for speech related to Missouri State Parks. The views, opinions and positions expressed by users providing comments on this page are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions or positions of Missouri State Parks or any employee thereof.


Comments

Oil painting of Benton in his studio I am finishing up.
Does anyone know why there is a hatchet on the palette 🎨 in the studio????
THB
My husband and I visited the home today and it was the best tour we have ever been on. Katy was an exceptional tour guide. Lots of information, orignal belongings and plenty of art work to admire. Best $5.00 ever spent!
Has anyone ever seen a Benton painting signed like this? I've been told yes and I've been told no. So I figured I would reach out and see. Anyone know how to get a hold of Jessie?
Could anybody here tell me more about this painting? Thanks!
Great tour! Thanks Katie!
https://www.pbs.org/kenburns/country-music/episode-1-the-rub-beginnings-1933 39 seconds into Ken Burn's Country Music, episode 1
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ezW0SspE9f4 Thomas Hart Benton - The Making of a Mural
Are you open or closed July 4?
I have a wonderful painting that I believe could have been painted by one of Thomas Hart Benton's students. I have done a little research and found that a person by this name (artist signature) lived in Joplin, Missouri and was a Designer, working for a printing manufacturer in 1940. The painting is dated 1943.