Before 1943, the University Art Museum had a small and average collection of objects and artifacts which had been taken in with no "screening committee".
However, when H.W. Janson, a famous art historian, became involved in the university, the faculty decided to give the collection a more focused direction. This led to a large deaccessioning of objects from the university collection. The school is estimated to have sold "approximately one-sixth of [Washington University’s] entire collection."
From the sale of these artworks at Kende Galleries, the art gallery inside Gimbel Brothers Department Store in New York, Janson bought 26 works of modern art.
Today, the Kemper Museum houses an important modern and contemporary collections. The museum has stayed committed to its collecting practices that it established over 70 years ago.
 H. W. Janson, “Centennial Address” (1981) in Sabine Eckmann, H. W. Janson and the Legacy of Modern Art at Washington University in St. Louis (St. Louis: Washington University Gallery of Art, 2002), 45.
 Janson, “The New Art Collection,” 201.
 Janson, “The New Art Collection,” 202-204.