The U.S. Army Command and General Staff College (CGSC) may be one of Kansas City’s best-kept secrets. Established in 1881 and located at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, it is an elite graduate school for Army and international military officers. As part of The Art of War Initiative, this exhibit highlights the college’s impressive history and art collection. The paintings, sculptures and objects on display were selected from more than 3,800 in the College’s collection and represent the school’s long tradition of teaching leadership and building international relations.
The opening reception will include a short program to educate attendees about the selections on display and about the CGSC Foundation’s The Art of War Initiative, a project designed to preserve, promote, and protect the life and longevity of the CGSC collection.
Other events are also scheduled during the The Art of War: Gifts of Peace include a discussion panel titled “Lessons on Leadership” featuring a panel of military and business leaders. The Gallery will also host “Reflections,” a poetry reading featuring local poets, including a poet with a military background.
The Command and General Staff College has been educating military officers for service to the nation since 1881. International military officers began attending the college in 1894. The CGSC art and gift collection traces its beginnings to 1943 at the height of World War II with a plaque from the Polish delegation attending the college. Gifts prior to that were not necessarily cataloged or maintained. However, some gifts, such as a painted portrait of Confederate General Robert E. Lee donated in 1934 by the Daughters of the American Confederacy, still exist. In the 1970s, CGSC classes began a tradition of giving gifts to the college upon graduation. That tradition has taken many forms, from stained glass windows currently displayed in the Lewis and Clark Center (the home of CGSC), to original works of art presented annually on a topic chosen by the class. In addition, many of the international military student officers from each class annually gift the college with tokens of appreciation representing their country. Visiting dignitaries and interested donors have also gifted the college with works of art. Examples of these gifts range from a presidential portrait collection to bronze statues commemorating the military’s role in the war in Afghanistan.
Over the years, CGSC has amassed a collection of gifts of art objects and other items that provide a physical representation of the historical significance between the college and the nations it serves. Until The Art of War Initiative began in summer 2016 with a partnership between the CGSC Foundation and the Todd Weiner Gallery, the general public has never truly had an opportunity to see this collection.
For more information about The Art of War Initiative, visit theartofwarinitiative.org.