Spencer Museum of Art

The Spencer Museum of Art explores the capacity of art to spark curiosity, inspire creativity, and create connections among people. The Museum, located on the University of Kansas campus in Lawrence, Kansas, houses an internationally known collection that is deep and diverse, currently numbering nearly 36,000 artworks and artifacts in all media. The collection spans the history of European and American art from ancient to contemporary, and includes broad and significant holdings of East Asian art. Areas of special strength include medieval art; European and American paintings, sculpture and prints; photography; Japanese Edo period painting and prints; 20th-century Chinese painting; and KU’s ethnographic collection, which includes about 10,000 Native American, African, Latin American and Australian works.HistoryIn 1917 Sallie Casey Thayer, a Kansas City art collector, offered her collection of nearly 7,500 art objects to the University of Kansas to form a museum "to encourage the study of fine arts in the Middle West." Her eclectic collection included paintings, sculpture, prints, drawings, furniture, rugs, textiles, metalwork, ceramics, glass, and other examples of decorative arts, primarily from Europe and Asia. Eventually the University of Kansas Museum of Art was established in 1928, based on this collection. Over the years the collection has grown substantially thanks to the generosity of many benefactors and the expertise of many curators.By the late 1960s the Museum had outgrown its quarters in Spooner Hall. Mrs. Helen Foresman Spencer, another Kansas City collector and patron of the arts, made a gift of $4.6 million that funded construction of a new museum. The building housing the Helen Foresman Spencer Museum of Art, the Kress Foundation Department of Art History, and the Murphy Library of Art and Architecture opened in 1978. The neo-classical structure, built from Indiana limestone, was designed by Kansas City architect Robert E. Jenks, a 1926 graduate of KU.


Lawrence, KS


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