Shawnee Mission district hides its Thomas Hart Benton painting - KCTV5

Shawnee Mission district hides its Thomas Hart Benton painting

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Some members of a class that donated a Thomas Hart Benton painting to a Shawnee Mission school in the 1950s are wondering where the gift is being kept. Some members of a class that donated a Thomas Hart Benton painting to a Shawnee Mission school in the 1950s are wondering where the gift is being kept.
OVERLAND PARK, KS (KCTV/AP) -

Some members of a class that donated a Thomas Hart Benton painting to a Shawnee Mission school in the 1950s are wondering where the gift is being kept.

The district says it has the painting, called "Utah Highlands," but it isn't saying where. The district's spokeswoman says the location is being kept secret for security reasons because the painting is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The students spent $750 in 1957 to buy the painting from one of Missouri's most famous artists. Its value was appraised a few years ago at $700,000.

Some alumni are unhappy that their gift is now secreted away at an unknown location. They sought the painting as a long-term donation.

Marsha Patcher are among the class of 1957 who went to Benton's Kansas City home to buy the work of art. She thinks such a lovely piece of art should be viewed.

She suggests that the district sell the painting to a museum and use the money to fund educational programs.

"Benton is having a revival. Those years of art are having a revival in this country. Why not take advantage of that?" she said.

The painting hung for years in the library of the school now called Shawnee Mission North. It hasn't been seen publicly since 2008.

District officials were worried about having the painting on public display as the value increases.

"While we appreciate the interest, we would decline any highlight of the piece that might lead to potential security concerns for the future," according to a statement from the district.

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