Art Collection

Order No. 11 (Detail), George Caleb Bingham

SHSMO boasts the nation's best collection of Missouri regional and westward expansion art, including Thomas Hart Benton's Year of Peril series, Fred Geary's regionalist woodcuts, and one of the largest collections of paintings by George Caleb Bingham. Also found in the collection are works by John James Audubon, Karl Bodmer, Frank Nuderscher, Fred Shane, and many other Missouri artists.

SHSMO's extensive editorial cartoon collection includes original drawings by Daniel Fitzpatrick, S. J. Ray, Bill Mauldin, Don Hesse, Tom Engelhardt, and others.

Contemporary works are continually added to the collection. Twenty-first century examples by artists such as Robert Bussabarger, Notley Hawkins, Jon Luvelli, Brian Mahieu, Jane Mudd, Byron Smith, and Frank Stack are preserved here for future generations.

SHSMO artworks are often loaned to other institutions to help share the story of Missouri and its role opening the West. SHSMO held artwork has been shown in galleries from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York to the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, allowing new and larger audiences to view significant works within the collection.

"Art is very accessible. Even people who aren't interested in reading scholarly journals or poring through newspapers can look at works of art and immediately begin to understand the past."
-Dr. Joan Stack, SHSMO curator of art collections

Accessing the Art Collection


The State Historical Society of Missouri Center for Missouri Studies Art Gallery features several topical and permanent galleries with rotating exhibitions (see below). These exhibitions can be accessed free of charge during regular business hours. SHSMO also welcomes visits from classes and groups. You can request a tour online.

Digital Collections

See representations of frontiersmen, World War II soldiers, and local leaders who shaped Missouri's culture through the digital art collections.

Many works of George Caleb Bingham, Thomas Hart Benton, and Fred Geary are available as well as more than 17,000 editorial cartoons from SHSMO's holdings.


SHSMO's scholarly publications offer an in-depth look at Missouri history and heritage. Four of the Society's featured books provide a glimpse into the lives and careers of significant artists with ties to the Show-Me State including:

  • "But I Forget That I Am a Painter and Not a Politician": The Letters of George Caleb Bingham
  • Four Turbulent Decades: A Cartoon History of America, 1962–2001, From the Pen of Tom Engelhardt
  • Fred Geary: Missouri Master of the Woodcut
  • Thomas Hart Benton: Artist, Writer and Intellectual

State Historical Society of Missouri publications are available for purchase in the online gift shop, and proceeds benefit SHSMO research centers and programs.


Enjoy the work of some of Missouri's greatest artists in your home or office. SHSMO offers a select few reproduction prints and note cards through its online gift shop. Society publications are also available through the store. Members always save 10 percent, and proceeds benefit SHSMO research centers and programs.

Support the Art Collection

Financial gifts to SHSMO allow strategic additions to the nation's most significant Missouri-related art collection and expand the resources available to stage unique exhibitions. Learn more about making a gift.

Material donations are another way that you can support SHSMO. The State Historical Society of Missouri preserves paintings, political cartoons, fine art prints, photographs, newspapers, maps, and the written records of individuals, families, and organizations. Learn how donating your art can help make Missouri's history more vibrant and complete.


Art Exhibitions

Art and educational exhibitions illustrate transformative moments in Missouri and U.S. history. The State Historical Society of Missouri houses exhibition galleries at the Center for Missouri Studies in Columbia. SHSMO also provides materials for display in galleries and exhibition spaces across the state.

Sign up to receive exhibition news by email

November 1, 10:00 am – March 30, 4:30 pm | Columbia

This video Installation by Valerie Wedel, an art professor at William Woods University in Fulton, Missouri, features enlarged, hand-painted copies of letters that are held in the archives of the State Historical Society of Missouri. The images have been artistically “aged” for effect, crumpled, torn, and scattered to represent controversies surrounding access to historical information. The reversed and animated texts symbolize breathing life back into these stories. These animations are intended to revive the texts.

Small Town Big Stories exhibit
September 26, 12:00 am – February 10, 11:59 pm | Columbia

Since 1949, professional photographers from around the country, including Missouri, have captured images of life in rural Missouri towns as part of the Missouri Photo Workshop, established at the Missouri School of Journalism. SHSMO is hosting an exhibition marking the 75th anniversary of the workshops. Visitors can study more than 100 images taken in 51 towns across the state over the past 75 years.

Fragile: Handle with Care by Tom Engelhardt
May 4, 2023 – February 1, 2024 | Center for Missouri Studies, Columbia

Since the 1930s, environmental issues have played a growing role in shaping public policy in the United States. Decades of activism have called attention to the dangers of pesticides, pollution, deforestation, extinction, and climate change. This exhibition examines original editorial cartoons by Missouri artists that explore these environmental concerns. Open now through Winter 2023 during regular visitor hours in the SHSMO Art Gallery.

Painting of soldiers preparing to board a ship to go to war. One soldier looks over his shoulder back at the viewer
May 3, 2023 – December 3, 2026 | Center for Missouri Studies Art Gallery

Our gallery space includes a permanent exhibition of ten large World War II paintings created by Thomas Hart Benton between 1941 and 1943. These images reflect the anxiety, horror, grief, and resolve that Benton and his audience experienced after the U.S. entered WW II on December 7, 1941. Benton responded to the national crisis with a series of nightmarish visions of war, eight of which were purchased by Abbott Laboratories and exhibited in New York City in 1942.

Painting depicting chaotic scene of soldiers forcibly evacuating civilians
May 3, 2023 – December 3, 2026 | Center for Missouri Studies Art Gallery

Our permanent exhibition of works by George Caleb Bingham includes the monumental 1869/70 Civil War painting, Gen. Order No. 11, which represents the execution of a military directive evacuating civilians in four Missouri border counties. The  evacuation order that took place in the midst of  Missouri/Kansas guerilla fighting  in 1863.  Also on display is the Bingham painting Watching the Cargo, a classic example of the artist's genre images representing the Missouri workers involved in river commerce.  Finally a number of Bingham portraits are also exhibited.