Media, Art and Design

Fine Arts Building, Room 204
5015 Holmes Street
Kansas City, MO 64110
(816) 235-1501

Department Chair:

Elijah Gowin

Curator's Professor:

Larson Powell


Richard W. Allman 

Barry Anderson

Lyn Elliot

Elijah Gowin

Kati Toivanen

Associate Professors:

Cristina Albu, Principal Graduate Advisor in Art History

Caitlin Horsmon 

HyeYoung Shin 


Associate Teaching Professor:

Mitchell Brian

Assistant Professor:

Joseph R. Hartman 

Full-time Lecturer:

Davin Watne  

Professors Emeriti:

Eric J. Bransby
Frances S. Connelly
William Crist
Barbara Mueller
Craig A. Subler
Rochelle Ziskin

Instructor Emeritus:

Nancy DeLaurier

Department Description

The Department of Media, Art and Design is a dynamic environment that aims to provide all UMKC students with education and experience to develop their creative- and critical-thinking skills, their art-making abilities, and their versatility in professional and personal situations. The Department serves a variety of students, ranging from the non-major to the professionally oriented. The department offers programs leading to the Bachelor of Arts degree in Art History, Film and Media Arts, Media, Art and Design, and Studio Art, as well as minors in each area. Art History also offers a Master of Arts degree in Art History and participates in the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. program.

Students studying Art History, Film and Media Arts, Media Art and Design, and Studio Art obtain a broad liberal arts foundation during their educational career and receive sound fundamental training in the arts. Small class sizes combined with interactive teaching methods offer a comprehensive learning environment for the aspiring arts professional. The department also collaborates with other departments and schools within the university.

Kansas City is nationally known for its vibrant arts scene, with the UMKC Gallery of Art, Plug Projects, and many galleries located in the Crossroads Arts District. The department's partnerships with art organizations like Charlotte Street Foundation, ArtsKC, Studios Inc, and others structure internships, networking, entrepreneurial mentoring, and other professional development opportunities. Visiting artists and scholars, gallery exhibitions, and enrichment programs supplement coursework.

Outside of the classroom, physical proximity and close professional connections to the museums, studios, galleries, and art organizations in the Kansas City community offer students additional opportunities for exposure to new ideas, media, and special events. The extensive collection of The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art is located three blocks away, and there are also major contemporary collections nearby, including those of the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, H&R Block Artspace, the Belger Arts Center, and the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art.

Special Resources/Programs

UMKC Gallery of Art

The department is home to the UMKC Gallery of Art. The gallery organizes curated shows from visiting local, national, and international artists, as well as arranging shows of student and alumni work. The annual Student Art Exhibition is a guest-juried exhibition that features the work of the current student body.

Production Facilities

The department has media classrooms and production spaces for student projects that include a video production studio soundstage with lighting grid and green-screen, sound recording facility with radio console and podcast capabilities, a multi-camera digital broadcast studio outfitted for newscast, interviews & webinars, in addition to iMac based post-production media labs running the latest versions of video, audio, and digital imaging software. An equipment check-out lab for film and journalism students maintains an extensive inventory of portable production equipment including cameras, audio equipment, lights, tablets, stationary, and mobile camera support. Our facilities foster the ability to light, shoot, record, and edit professionally, allowing the students to tell compelling stories that make an impact on audiences.

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

The University of Missouri-Kansas City is fortunate to be adjacent to one of the most comprehensive and distinguished art museums in the country: The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. In addition to having ready access to the gallery's collection, advanced students may be privileged to use the museum's other facilities, such as the reference library, the acquisition records, or the museum's collections. Use of these facilities is undertaken only after consultation with a member of the faculty. Admission to the museum is free to everyone.

Undergraduate Admission Information

In undergraduate studies, the Studio Art, Film and Media Studies, Media, Art and Design, and Art History programs offer Bachelor of Arts degrees. For incoming freshmen, there are no special requirements beyond those for admission to the University. Transfer students to UMKC need to meet with both a department and a general education advisor prior to beginning classes to evaluate their transcripts to determine course equivalencies.

Program Overview

Bachelor of Arts degree programs in Studio Art, Film and Media Studies, Media, Art and Design, and Art History at UMKC are available as well as minors in each discipline. Art History also offers a Master of Arts degree in Art History as well as participates in the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. program. All the programs provide an exciting educational experience in a liberal arts setting.

The Studio Art faculty is comprised of accomplished and actively exhibiting artists, offering courses in drawing, painting, graphic design, print media, digital imaging, motion design, and photography. The faculty of two full-time art historians and part-time instructors, offer courses in the art and architecture of Ancient, Renaissance, Modern European, Contemporary, and American, Latin American, Asian, African, and African-American cultures. Our Film and Media Arts faculty is comprised of artists and scholars providing rigorous training in media production focused on individual creative development and cinematic storytelling.  Faculty integrate the study of film history with hands-on production in a variety of filmmaking practices including narrative, documentary, experimental, and animation. Our strong adjunct faculty consists of local artists, art educators, and professionals. Curators from The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art regularly offer advanced Art History courses, most recently on topics like Decorative Arts, Art and Patronage in 16th Century Rome, 20th Century Photography, Islamic Art and the Spiritual in Contemporary Art.

Outside of the classroom, physical proximity and professional connections to the museums, studios, and art organizations in the Kansas City community offer students additional opportunities for internships, visiting artists, and enrichment programs to supplement coursework. Classes make use of the extensive collections at The Nelson-Atkins located three blocks away, as well as the major contemporary collections in Kansas City, including those of the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, the Belger Arts Center and the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art. Community arts organizations such as the UMKC Gallery of Art, the H&R Block Artspace, and various art galleries located in the Crossroads Arts District lend unique learning opportunities for studio art and art history majors to experience. Research in Art History is supported by the Miller-Nichols Library at UMKC, the Spencer Art Reference Library at the Nelson-Atkins Museum, and the Linda Hall Library.

The five-story, 57,800 square-foot Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise and Research Center features 11 state-of-the-art research labs. It is the largest privately-funded capital project in UMKC history, with more than 25 donors. The labs within the Plaster Center contain a 3D printing lab and fabrication studio to build prototypes, high-performance computing, and analytics equipment and software, an FAA-approved flight simulator, a two-story drone flight-testing bay, and $3 million of augmented and virtual reality equipment. Some of the technology within the labs is not available anywhere else in Kansas City, allowing UMKC to remain state of the art in research and education while helping community partners do the same.

The UMKC Digital History Lab is supported by a generous contribution from the William T. Kemper Foundation. The lab enables history students to explore the intersections of historical research and new media by producing innovative public history, digital history, and digital humanities projects, also in collaboration with community partners.

Career Opportunities

Career opportunities in Studio Art include education, arts administration, and practicing art and design in fields of graphic design, interactive design, video arts, print media, photography, digital arts, painting, and illustration. Graduates in the Studio Art programs at UMKC have found employment with Artist Inc, Hallmark, Barkley, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Epsten Gallery at Village ShalommySidewalk, the Kansas City Municipal Commission, and as successful independent artists. Students have been accepted into graduate programs at institutions including the University of Missouri at Columbia, Sam Fox School at Washington University, Ohio State, Guildhall at Southern Methodist University, and the Rhode Island School of Design.

Career paths in Art History include work in museums and galleries, educational institutions, and arts administration. Other career choices that mesh well with an Art History degree are publishing, art appraisal, non-profit art or history organizations, archival work, and library science. Graduates from the Art History M.A. program at UMKC have found positions at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, the Nelson-Atkins Museum, the H&R Block Artspace, the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Avila University, the Wadsworth Athenaeum, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, as well as right here at UMKC. The M.A. degree at UMKC provides excellent preparation for doctoral work. Degree requirements are structured to give students a thorough background in research methodology, and courses are taught by faculty actively involved in research. Our graduates have continued their work toward the Ph.D. at institutions including the University of Chicago, Princeton University, Case Western Reserve University, the University of Michigan, and the University of Kansas.