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Ann Constable Collection

Identifier: MSS-015

Scope and Contents Note

The Ann Constable Collection, dated 1931 to 1989, contains photographs, correspondence, newspaper and magazine articles, invitations, a manuscript, and other miscellaneous materials. The collection is composed entirely of material collected by, or given to, Constable during her years as a friend and neighbor to, and art dealer for, the Benton family. The photographs are the most extensive and significant aspect of the collection. These offer an interesting and educational insight into Thomas Hart Benton’s personal and professional life.


  • Creation: 1931-1989

Restrictions on Access

Open to researchers. Appointments are necessary for the use of manuscript and archival collections.

Conditions Governing Use Note

Notification of intent to publish, quote, or cite archival materials is required. Contact the archives via

Biographical / Historical Note

Anna (Ann) Russell was born in Osceola, Missouri on October 18, 1923. She moved to Kansas City in 1941, where she met her future husband, Lelon (Lee) Constable. They married on January 1, 1942. During World War II, while Lee served in the military, Ann worked for Pratt Whitney as a drill press operator. When the war ended, she went to work with Lee in the family business, Constable Bindery. In 1960, the couple became neighbors of Thomas Hart Benton and his family. This began a close personal friendship that lasted until Benton’s death in 1975. After working in the bindery for twenty-eight years, Ann quit to open her own business, Constable Gallery, Ltd., which dealt in fine arts and collectibles. She had shops in Kansas City, Prairie Village, Kansas, and later in Boca Raton, Florida. Ann handled many works by Benton and was considered the foremost authority on his art. When Ann retired in 1991, she continued to be a preeminent broker of his art. After Thomas's and Rita's deaths, Ann was appointed to the Benton Homestead Commission, which assisted the state in maintaining the Benton home as a state museum. In 1980, Ann co-founded the Benton Foundation, whose purpose it was to place a life-size bronze statue of Benton at the Kansas City Art Institute (KCAI). In 1996, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources asked her to form a not-for-profit foundation to raise money for the Benton house. She founded the Friends of the Benton Home to accomplish this task. Ann and Lee were also original members of the Thomas Hart Benton Associates of KCAI. Ann Constable died on May 24, 2000, at the age of seventy-six.


0.67 Linear Feet (In 1 flat clamshell box and 1 legal document case.)

Language of Materials



The Ann Constable Collection, dated 1931 to 1989, contains photographs, correspondence, newspaper and magazine articles, invitations, a manuscript, and other miscellaneous materials related to Thomas Hart Benton.


This collection is arranged into five series: Photographs (Series I); Correspondence (Series II); Publications (Series III); Invitations and Programs (Series IV); and Miscellaneous (Series V). All of the series, with the exception of Series V, are arranged chronologically with undated material placed at the end of each series.

Immediate Source of Acquisition Note

Transfer; accession number associated with this collection is 2004-03.

Accruals Note

Additions to this collection are not anticipated.

Related Materials Note

Laurence Sickman Papers (MSS 001): Series I, Correspondence, “Benton, Thomas Hart”; Milton McGreevy Papers (MSS 007): “Thomas Hart Benton”; Senior Curator (RG 98): Series I, Exhibition Files, Sub-Series A, General Exhibition Materials, “Thomas Hart Benton Exhibtion, Correspondence”

See also (in the Spencer Art Reference Library): “Thomas Hart Benton: Artist File.” Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri

Finding Aid of the Ann Constable Collection, MSS 015
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art Archives Repository

4525 Oak St.
Kansas City MO 64111 United States