With a diverse collection of more than 47,000 art objects and works of cultural significance, the Spencer is the only comprehensive art museum in the state of Kansas and serves more than 100,000 visitors annually.
The Museum’s vision is to present its collection as a living archive that motivates object-centered research and teaching, creative work, and transformative public dialogue. The Spencer facilitates arts engagement and research through exhibitions, artist commissions and residencies, conferences, film screenings, musical and dramatic performances, artist- and scholar-led lectures, children’s art activities, and community arts and culture festivals.
The Spencer Museum of Art sustains a culturally diverse collection and encourages interdisciplinary exploration at the intersection of art, ideas, and experience. The Spencer strengthens, supports, and contributes to the academic research and teaching of The University of Kansas and is committed to serving communities of learners across Kansas and beyond.
Art is on the move, again.
The anticipation of polished white oak floors, state of the art lighting, and a second study center is transforming into concrete plans for fall at the Spencer Museum. In this moment before our collections are reinstalled the empty galleries are open vistas. These enticing views invite the imagining of the Museum as a spacious place where art may create a landscape of meanings and interpretations. Museum staff, builders, and designers have been striving to provide coherence and inspiration for education, reflection, and challenging new concepts.
The decision to renovate the Spencer Museum in stages dates back to 2008, when Pei Cobb Freed and Partners and Sabitini Architects began work on the building to support an ambitious architectural program. The program placed the educational mission of the Museum at the very center of the building’s renovations, imagining experiential zones based on close-looking, peer learning, and connection across the campuses of KU. Phase II finishes the galleries inside our existing footprint, leaving possibilities for the former auditorium space.
How can historic collections serve more powerfully as a primary source for classes across the university? What will artists present and future need to awaken a familiar space with new work? How can our programs and exhibitions invite underserved communities? Questions such as these continue to inform and challenge our decisions as Phase II galleries prepare to open this fall.
—Saralyn Reece Hardy
This four-year plan outlines the Museum's guiding principles and goals.