detail: bowl with chrysanthemums by Miyagawa Kōzan

Civic Leader and Art Collector: Sallie Casey Thayer and an Art Museum for KU

Sam and Connie Perkins Central Court, 317; Dolph Simons Family Gallery, 316; Estelle S. and Robert A. Long Ellis Foundation Gallery, 315

Japanese prints, American paintings, Bohemian glass, ancient Coptic textile fragments, Chinese snuff bottles, glass door pulls, and 19th-century trade and valentine cards are just a few of the objects from around the globe acquired by Kansas City philanthropist Sallie Casey Thayer. Donated to the University of Kansas in 1917, her extensive collection forms the basis of what is today the Spencer Museum of Art. This centenary exhibition celebrates her founding gift and explores Mrs. Thayer’s collecting practices and motivations, in particular her commitment to women and their role in civic affairs and municipal culture.

Civic Leader and Art Collector will also draw on materials from the Spencer’s archives that document Mrs. Thayer’s correspondence with art dealers. Gallery talks and art activities will hone in on specific art objects and explore what motivated Mrs. Thayer to collect objects from particular regions across the globe.

Generous support for this exhibition comes from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation.

View the exhibition brochure.

Learn more about Thayer's collecting on our HistoryPin site.

Complete a short survey about your experience with the Thayer exhibition.

Selected images