Housed in the Norene Catron Ketcherside Gallery of Fine Arts is the McPherson Schools Art Collection. The collection began in 1911 with the first art exhibition held at the high school. The students purchased two oil paintings and were gifted a third by Birger Sandzén. The art exhibitions continued until the mid-1930s with the school district acquiring 130 pieces of original art purchased by the students. Over the years the collection has continued to grow to over 200 pieces held in both the art gallery and throughout the McPherson USD 418 school district making it the second-largest public school art collection in the nation. Notable artists whose works are represented include Oscar Jacobson, Birger Sandzén, and James Whistler.

The gallery also contains the wood carvings of Anna Larkin. Originally from Sweden, where she sold carvings of horses to Oscar II, the King of Sweden, Anna moved the United States and eventually settled in McPherson. She was known for the rustic nature of her carvings with horses, oxen, and covered wagons being her specialties. She also carved people, animals, and other objects as well. Anna rarely painted her carvings as she said that, “if you painted them, you were covering up something you were ashamed of and she was not ashamed of her work.”

Sowing the Seeds of Art