Visual Arts

July 11, 2014

Nerman Museum gift shop to become Kansas Focus Gallery

The Nerman Museum’s former gift shop space will be renovated into a gallery with funds from the Barton P. and Mary Davidson Cohen Charitable Trust. The new Kansas Focus Gallery, scheduled to open later this year, will present works by artists associated with the state of Kansas.

After losing its gift shop, the Nerman Museum has gained a gallery, thanks to a $700,000 gift from the Barton P. and Mary Davidson Cohen Charitable Trust.

In February, the museum shop was closed as part of campus-wide budget cuts at Johnson County Community College. Later this year, the 539-square-foot space will reopen as Kansas Focus Gallery, dedicated to works by artists associated with the state of Kansas and designed by museum architect Kyu Sung Woo.

The $700,000 gift will be allocated to the museum’s operating endowment, renovation costs and acquisitions, including a Robert Bingaman pool painting from his current one-person show in the museum.

The Kansas Focus Gallery will be the second gallery in the museum supported by the Cohen Charitable Trust. In 2005, the couple established the Barton P. and Mary D. Cohen Gallery, a project space for local artists.

In 2009, Mary Cohen made a $1 million gift from the trust to establish the Barton P. and Mary D. Cohen Art Acquisition endowment at the Nerman.

Recent acquisitions made possible by the endowment include large abstractions by Jackie Saccoccio and Joanne Greenbaum and contemporary Native American works by Tom Haukaas, Jeffrey Gibson and Norman Akers.

Barton P. Cohen, former president of Metcalf Bancshares Inc. and a member of the Blackwell Sanders Peper Martin law firm, passed away in 2006.

Mary Cohen is an educator whose career includes 18 years as assistant vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Kansas.

Together, the two built an art collection of more than 175 pieces, which Mary Cohen just donated to JCCC. Highlights include works by Birger Sandzen, Albert Bloch, John Steuart Curry, the Prairie Print Makers and Keith Jacobshagen.

To reach Alice Thorson, call 816-234-4763 or send email to

Where to go

The Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art is at 12345 College Blvd., Overland Park. Hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and Saturday; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday; noon-5 p.m. Sunday. Closed Monday. For more information, go to or call 913-469-3000.

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