Thomas Hart Benton Home & Studio State Historic Site

Thomas Hart Benton, b 1889- d 1975
3616 Belleview, Kansas City , MO 64111 - view on Google Maps
816-931-5722
“The only way an artist can personally fail is to quit work.”
—Thomas Hart Benton
All the rooms in the rambling bungalow of American Regionalist painter, muralist, sculptor, writer, and musician, Thomas Hart Benton, remain virtually as he left them, with his painting tools, supplies, and stretched canvas in the studio.

ABOUT

Thomas Hart Benton was born in Neosho, MO in 1889, the great, great nephew and namesake of Missouri's first senator. He studied at the Art Institute of Chicago, and in Paris, where he was exposed to a variety of techniques and theories of art.

Benton then moved to New York where he taught at the Art Students League; Jackson Pollock was one of his students. Benton spent several years perfecting a new method of planning his paintings by using clay models to help with the organization of the design. He became a leader of the Regionalist movement in painting that dominated American art during the 1930s.

In 1935, Benton returned to Missouri and was awarded a commission for the mural in the state Capitol, A Social History of Missouri. That same year, he was made an instructor the Kansas City Art Institute.

Between 1939 and his death in 1975, Benton resided at 3616 Belleview in Kansas City. Many of his original paintings and sculptures add vibrant colors to the simply decorated home. A walk through the home reveals a lot about the artist's interests. Though best known as a painter, Benton was also a sculptor, a musician, a writer, a book illustrator, and a teacher. A baby grand piano reflects Benton's love for music. Benton played the harmonica and even recorded an album.

The Benton home was a center of creative and cultural activity. Political leaders, artists, writers, architects and musicians flowed through the Benton's family life, influencing the family and, in turn, were enriched by their contact with Thomas Hart Benton.

Benton converted a former stable into his studio. Today, visitors may expect Benton to walk in and sit down to paint, as coffee cans of brushes, paints, and a stretched canvas await his arrival. Benton had just put the finishing touches on his last mural, The Sources of Country Music, when he died in his studio.

Did you know...?

Thomas Hart Benton was only 5’ 2¾” tall.

SPECIAL RESOURCES

We have archives, artworks by the artist, and Benton’s original possessions.

WHAT TO DO HERE

  • Guided tour of the home and studio.
  • Off-site PowerPoint presentations are available.

YOU CAN ALSO SEE THE ART HERE:

  • Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
  • Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
  • Los Angeles County Museum of Art
  • Harry S. Truman Library and Museum
  • Missouri State Capitol
  • Country Music Hall of Fame