Collection History

Forming a permanent collection of works of art is one of the most important endeavors any institution of higher education can undertake to advance the visual arts. Although the significance of exhibitions, publications and educational programs cannot be overlooked, ultimately, a permanent collection best enables students to directly engage art on a daily basis. For many students, the works of art they encounter on college campuses are their first exposure to the richness and diversity of artistic expression.

Recognizing the important role Johnson County Community College could play in cultivating an awareness and appreciation of the visual arts, in 1980, the college board of trustees approved a yearly art acquisition program. In so doing, the college embarked on a visionary program that has immeasurably added to the quality of education and life at the college.

From the outset, the college collection has focused on contemporary art, which is especially fitting for an institution whose founding (in 1969) and rapid growth occurred in the late 20th century. In addition, the spare geometry of campus buildings has provided numerous spaces that are inherently conducive to the exhibition of contemporary art. Also, the gently rolling hills of the campus are ideally suited to the installation of site-specific and large-scale sculpture.

During its formative years, the College Art Acquisition Committee (spearheaded by Landon Kirchner, former assistant dean of humanities and social sciences) commissioned several large-scale works for campus sites. These pieces include Grant Kenner's "Flight of Imagination" and Dale Eldred's "Galileo's Garden."

A guiding principle for art acquisitions was that the works be installed in a variety of suitable locations throughout the campus. Accessibility and visibility were deemed vital to ensuring that art would be readily available to students and visitors.

In response to this mandate, we initiated the creation of collection focus areas on campus. The installation of contemporary art from the JCCC collection is transforming the daily environment of students, visitors, and employees.

The Museum/JCCC Permanent Collection (including the Oppenheimer Collection) testifies to the college's exceptional commitment to the cultural life of Johnson County and metropolitan Kansas City. These works demonstrate the efforts of the college to form a serious collection to serve as a resource for students, faculty and the community. It offers a firsthand acquaintance with diverse, original artistic expressions and provides insights into late 20th century and early 21st century culture. Beyond that, the collection may be enjoyed for the emotional, intellectual and visual pleasure it evokes.