- Associated Press - Friday, January 30, 2015

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) - A suburban Kansas City school district is negotiating to bring a Thomas Hart Benton painting out of safe storage and display it for the public, although officials won’t say where it might be seen.

The painting, called “Utah Highlands,” was purchased for Shawnee Mission High School by the class of 1957 and for years was displayed in what is now Shawnee Mission North High School. But it hasn’t been seen since it was appraised in 2008 at $700,000 and district officials decided to store it away out because of safety concerns. The high school library displays a photo of the picture, locked behind plastic glass and hooked to an alarm.

Some former students who helped buy the painting questioned for $750 in 1957 questioned where the painting was and said they would prefer that it be displayed, The Kansas City Star reported (https://bit.ly/1ye13Li ). On Thursday, district officials said they are negotiating with another entity and the painting could be on display within weeks.

“I think that’s terrific,” Marsha Pachter, Shawnee Mission High School class of 1957, said. “Now that makes sense.”

After the newspaper’s earlier story, school officials to move the painting from a district school to another “secure location,” said John Douglass, director of safety and security for the district. He said the move was necessary to protect Shawnee Mission students.

Douglass said the $700,000 appraisal several years ago “knocked their socks off” and raised concerns the painting might be stolen.

If the newspaper story hadn’t been published, Douglass said, “frankly, we would have gone about quietly storing the painting” where it was.


Information from: The Kansas City Star, https://www.kcstar.com

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