by Moira Cullings
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Have you ever dreamed of seeing Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” up close?
Thanks to a generous donor, you don’t have to travel to the Louvre in Paris to check it out.
You can drive to Savior Pastoral Center in Kansas City, Kansas, to view a high-quality reproduction of the famous piece, as well 33 other works of art created by various artists throughout history.
“These are reproductions,” said Tim Chik, director of the pastoral center, “but they’re painstakingly made reproductions of classical pieces of art from artists like Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gogh, [Edouard] Manet, [Claude] Monet and Leonardo da Vinci — the absolute classics.
“And some of these pieces are some of the most well-known and recognizable pieces of art that have ever been produced.”
Included in the collection are 38 pieces accumulated over decades by Edward D. McCarthy and recently donated to the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.
McCarthy initially donated his impressive collection to the Jack Reardon Center in Kansas City, Kansas, which is now being torn down.
So, William E. Myers, a parishioner of Church of the Ascension in Overland Park and representing member of the McCarthy family, reached out to staff at the archdiocese to ask if they were interested in providing the collection a new home.
Lesle Knop, executive director of the Catholic Foundation of Northeast Kansas and ex officio member of the Catholic Fine Arts Council, was thrilled.
“I recognized these works of art as being historic and having great educational value,” said Knop.
“It is a privilege for the church to acquire the collection and be able to offer it and continue [the family’s] legacy,” she added.
The archdiocese now owns paintings by impressionists, realists and artists from the Renaissance period. The eclectic collection also includes a framed picture of the Kansas City skyline.
Savior is working on creating a permanent gallery inside its walls, which will display 34 of the pieces. In the meantime, the art will be temporarily displayed in another part of the building.
The archdiocese, which enthusiastically supports the arts — hosting high school and professional art competitions each year at Savior — is grateful for this opportunity.
“The Catholic Church historically has been a massive patron and supporter of the arts,” said Chik. “We believe that art elevates the mind and lifts the soul.
“And because of the gift of Bill Myers and his family, they are partners in that mission.
“Their donation and their willingness to think of the church for this donation really shows the ongoing connection between the Catholic Church and the arts community,” he said.
Savior is open for business and visitors are welcome to check out the new gallery free of charge.
Chik looks forward, in particular, to welcoming Catholic school students and teachers, who he encourages to stop by for a class field trip in the coming years.
“I really hope that a lot of people want to come by and see it and appreciate the gift that we’ve been given,” he said.
Savior Pastoral Center is located at 12601 Parallel Parkway in Kansas City, Kansas. Visitors are welcome during business hours Monday through Friday. Go to the front door by the bell tower and ask for permission to see the art.